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Amazon accused of wasting millions on PR while refusing to tackle shocking warehouse safety record

GMB says its ‘investigations prove Amazon is an incredibly dangerous place to work’

RETAIL giant Amazon has been accused of wasting millions of pounds on promotional advertising while refusing to tackle a shocking safety record at its warehouses.

The accusation came today from general union GMB, which is campaigning for recognition at Amazon’s 17 warehouses nationwide.

Reports about a catalogue of health and safety problems prompted Amazon to launch a multimillion-pound advertising campaign to improve its public image. 

The campaign included inviting customers to visit Amazon’s warehouses for closely guided tours.

Amazon said that “tens of thousands” of customers had taken up the offer.

But Mick Rix, GMB national officer, accused the company of “spending millions to improve its image instead of addressing staff safety concerns.”

“Our investigations prove Amazon is an incredibly dangerous place to work,” he said.

“Hundreds of ambulance call-outs, workers suffering electric shocks, heart attacks and even miscarriages.

“So rather than waste millions on flash advertising campaigns, why don’t Amazon just get round the table with us so we can work together and make sure their staff stay safe and healthy at the end of their shift?”

Amazon says its warehouses provide a “safe and modern environment” for its employees. 

The company said reports of safety concerns were “simply wrong and misleading when attempting to portray Amazon as an unsafe workplace.”

But for almost two years the Morning Star has reported on health and safety problems and incidents at Amazon warehouses.

They include: workers having to take empty bottles to work to urinate in because there is no time to go to the toilet; a pregnant woman being forced to stand for 10 hours to keep her working; emergency ambulances being called to Amazon warehouses more than 600 times to treat sick and injured workers over a three-year period; one warehouse at Rugeley in Staffordshire calling out emergency ambulances 115 times to deal with incidents which included electric shocks, bleeding, chest pains, major trauma, and pregnancy and maternity issues.

A similar-sized distribution warehouse nearby had just eight call-outs during the same period.

Last November, Amazon failed to respond to a request from Labour MPs Jack Dromey and Emma Reynolds for a health and safety review and a meeting with GMB in the House of Commons. 

The company also ignored a GMB request for a safety audit at the company’s warehouses.

A year ago Amazon warehouses in Rugeley, Swansea, Peterborough, Milton Keynes and Warrington were targeted for protests by the union.

Demonstrations also took place at Amazon warehouses in Spain and Italy, where workers staged 24-hour strikes.

GMB has accused the company of “treating its workers like robots.”

Worldwide Amazon employs more than 125,000 workers, 37,000 of them in Britain.

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