Amazon’s employment record has taken a further dent following reports that the online giant is forcing its UK workforce to do overtime to tackle huge demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The GMB union says workers across at least four different UK sites were informed that they had to work “compulsory overtime” from Monday, a move which national GMB officer Mick Rix said was evidence that Amazon was putting “profit before safety”. Amazon employs 27,000 people in the UK and has 17 warehouses.
One worker at Amazon’s Dunfermline warehouse in Scotland, who asked not to be named, told the BBC that staff in the “inbound goods” department are having additional hours imposed. Sought-after items include bleach, handwash, nappies, large boxes of rice and powdered milk.
Amazon confirmed the company had increased shifts across the UK. The firm said: “As demand continues to increase, we are working to ensure we can continue to deliver to the most-impacted customers while keeping our people safe.
“Many of these customers have no other way to get essential items and we want to be sure that we have the right resources in place to deliver on their needs. Starting this week, we’ll be prioritising the intake and dispatch of items most needed by our customers right now. These are items such as food, health and personal care products, items needed to work from home, books and toys for children.”
Earlier this week, Amazon attempted to show its caring and sharing side by saying it will hire an extra 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the US, and was encouraging workers who had lost their jobs in the hard-hit hospitality industry to apply. The online retail giant also said it would increase pay for its staff in the UK, US and Europe.
However, it is still reeling from reports that over 660 workers have been injured or seriously hurt in accidents in Amazon warehouses over the past year in the UK alone.
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