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Amazon told: pack it in on unfair pay

Online giant handed 55,000-signature petition

Slave-driving online retailer Amazon was handed a 55,000-name petition yesterday demanding better treatment for its underpaid and exploited workers.

Forty members of campaign group Amazon Anonymous delivered the petition to the anti-union tax-dodger's central London offices in one of its own cardboard boxes.

"Since starting the petition in December and seeing the overwhelming feeling against Amazon, I've been collecting stories from real Amazon workers and ex-workers about their warehouse experiences," said Amazon Anonymous leader Emily Kenway said.

"These stories illustrate the human cost of Amazon's business model - a cost that is all too dear.

"It's time to take coordinated action against this company. The website will bring together the various strands of opposition to Amazon, including tax and wage campaigners, unions and alternative vendors to act in coalition and finally make this company see sense."

Ms Kenway has collected testimony from Amazon's warehosue workers, many of whom earn less than the living wage, to reveal the reality of being an "Amazon elf."

Workers told Ms Kenway that "it was overtly said unions would spoil the company" and that "at interview, we were told union members would be dismissed."

Amazon operates a draconian and inhumane disciplinary points systems, with one worker being sanctioned for two taking days off after his partner had suffered a miscarriage, "despite phoning in."

Warehouse conditions are bleak. Workers are expected to walk up to 11 miles a day, not speak to each other, are regularly frisked, get only one 30-minute break and have toilet trips monitored.

"If prisoners were subjected to the conditions imposed by Amazon there would be outcry," one employee commented.

Workers also condemned Amazon's refusal to give notice to laid-off workers.

"I was told to turn up on the Friday after Christmas for my shift," one said.

"But when I turned up my pass wouldn't work. I wasn't needed any more. I had to walk home six miles. I never heard from the agency."

GMB national organiser Martin Smith said the union is one of a growing coalition taking the fight to Amazon.

"GMB is campaigning with local communities, tax justice campaigners and Amazon staff to make sure the company makes its full contribution to rebuilding the UK economy - both by paying wages its staff can live on and by paying its taxes," he said.

"We urge all staff at Amazon to join GMB to protect their job and join the campaign for better pay, secure working hours and a safe workplace."

An Amazon statement said: "We care for our associates' wellbeing and maintain a culture of direct dialogue and innovation."


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