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Amazon warehouses to be hit by protests against ‘inhumane’ work conditions on Black Friday

AMAZON warehouses across Britain will be targeted for Black Friday protests tomorrow over the online retail giant exploiting inhuman working conditions to further boost its profits.

Hundreds of protesters are expected to demonstrate at warehouses in Rugeley, Swansea, Peterborough, Milton Keynes and Warrington.

Protests are also planned in Spain and Italy, where Amazon workers will strike for 24 hours over the conditions.

In Britain, the protests are being organised by general union GMB which represents hundreds of Amazon workers but is refused recognition by the company .

As previously reported in the Star, working conditions in Amazon’s warehouses have led to ambulances being called 600 times in the past three years to deal with broken bones, maternity-related problems, workers collapsing, electric shocks and chest pains.

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said yesterday: “The conditions our members at Amazon are working under are frankly inhuman.”

The union has produced a shameful catalogue of testimonies from Amazon workers which include a pregnant woman who said she had to stand and work for 10 hours without a chair.

She said: “They are telling me to work hard even though they know I am pregnant.”

Another person said: “It is an awful place to work, can’t breathe or voice an opinion, feel like a trapped animal with lack of support and respect.”

Another worker said: “Dehumanising — you are a number not a person. If you have health issues, the Amazon way is to pay you off and replace you with temporary workers with [worse] terms and conditions.”

Other instances include workers at Amazon’s warehouse at Rugeley in Staffordshire taking a “toilet bottle” with them to urinate in, because they are not allowed time to go to the toilet.

Mr Roache said: “We’re standing up and saying enough is enough, these are people making Amazon its money. People with kids, homes, bills to pay – they’re not robots.”

Shadow work and pensions minister and Erdington MP Jack Dromey will also attend the protest in Rugeley that will be followed by a rally at Lea Hall Miners’ Club.

He said: “Amazon has serious issues with the health and safety of its workers which must be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

“A modern, 21st century company should recognise their workers’ union and that’s what they must now do.”

Amazon’s most recent accounts showed that the company’s worldwide revenue soared by 47 per cent to a staggering £36.7 billion. It posted £1.15 billion profits in a single quarter.

Its founder and chief executive is US citizen Jeff Bezos, who appropriated over $78 million (£61m) last year, meaning he rakes in almost £2,000 a second and every nine seconds makes the annual wage of the median Amazon employee.

Mr Roache said: “Jeff Bezos is the richest bloke on the planet. He can afford to sort this out.

“You’d think making the workplace safer so people aren’t carted out of the warehouse in an ambulance is in everyone’s interest, but Amazon seemingly have no will to get round the table with us as the union representing hundreds of their staff.”

Protests planned at the warehouses are: Rugeley, 5pm, Tower business park, Power Station Rd, Rugeley, WS15 1LX; Milton Keynes, 6.30am and 11.30am, Marston Gate Distribution Centre, Badgers Rise, Ridgmont MK43 0ZA; Warrington, 5.30pm, 1 Orion Blvd, Great Sankey, Warrington WA5 3XA; Peterborough, 5.30am, Unit 1, Kingston Park, Flaxley Rd, Peterborough PE2 9EN; Swansea, 7.30am and 6pm at Ffordd Amazon, Skewen, Swansea, SA1 8QX.

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