Campaigners step up calls over new deal for Amazon workers in Northamptonshire

Union sets up whistle-blowers' hotline as founder Jeff Bezos pledges "we need to do better"

Monday, 19th April 2021, 3:34 pm

Union leaders are urging Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to deliver on promises for a better deal for workers at the online retail giant's Northamptonshire warehouses.

Unite last month kicked off a digital campaign to offering Amazon staff a confidential whistle-blowing hotline following claims of poor working conditions.

Similar issues at a plant in the US brought a promise from founder Bezos that "we need to do a better job for employees.”

Unite campaigners in Corby last week
Unite campaigners in Corby last week

Amazon is thought to employ around 400 permanent staff at a giant fulfillment centre in Daventry — roughly the size of three football pitches — and a Northampton warehouse close to junction 15 of the M1.

Campaigners were in Corby last week spreading the word as calls grow for a new deal giving workers union support and a greater share of the firm's eye-watering profits.

Unite's executive officer Sharon Graham said: "Unite has launched its Action on Amazon campaign to give Amazon workers in Daventry and across the UK a real voice.

"Jeff Bezos has become the world’s richest man off the backs of workers who have played a crucial part in so many people’s lives during the pandemic.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos

"If he is genuine about doing better for Amazon workers as he claims, then he'll sign up to our declaration of neutrality which guarantees workers freedom to talk with and form a union without fear.

“Unite has launched a major ad campaign to alert Amazon workers about a confidential hotline to blow the whistle on poor treatment and working practices.

"Amazon attacks all attempts by workers to gain a collective voice of their own. This is why Unite is launching ‘Action on Amazon’ to give Amazon workers a voice, so they don’t have to rely on whistle-blowing or calling confidential hotlines.

“This corporate giant has made billions off the backs of workers. Amazon resists any attempts by workers to gain a collective voice of their own. It is now time that workers have a voice.”

The union says Amazon has failed to sign either the United Nations Global Compact or the Ethical Trading Initiative – bodies that recognise rights of all workers to a collective voice and which are signed up to by most of the biggest names on the high street.

Bezos, now ranked the world’s richest man, will step down from as chief executive later this year to become executive chairman of the online retail giant that he founded.

In his final letter to shareholders, he insisted Amazon was the “earth’s best employer” and “safest place to work”.

But he added: “It’s clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees – a vision for their success.

“If you read some of the news reports, you might think we have no care for employees.

“In those reports, our employees are sometimes accused of being desperate souls and treated as robots.

“That’s not accurate. They’re sophisticated and thoughtful people who have options for where to work.”