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Union challenges Bezos on workers’ rights as Amazon triples profits

UNITE threw down the gauntlet to Amazon boss Jeff Bezos today as the online giant announced a tripling of its profits amid reports of union-busting and poor treatment of workers.

The huge transnational has made a killing from Covid-19, raking in a staggering £5.8 billion in the first three months of this year — more than three times the £1.8bn it made over the same period in 2020 — as lockdown forced much shopping online.

Unite today renewed its challenge to Mr Bezos to sign a “declaration of neutrality,” which would guarantee that workers could exercise their right to join a union without fear, and allow union reps onto Amazon sites.

The union charges that Amazon workers are still “routinely prevented” from having a collective voice in the workplace, and recently opened a hotline for Amazon staff in Britain and Ireland, giving workers an avenue to blow the whistle on poor treatment without fear of reprisal.

The company maintains that it does not stand in the way of workers joining a union, but the stream of reports of determined anti-union tactics across the globe have painted a very different picture.

Unite executive officer Sharon Graham said: “Amazon’s profits have tripled off the backs of workers who have been essential during the pandemic.

“Amazon workers are not currently free to join a union without fear, and without obstruction and propaganda being deployed against them.  

“Workers have serious concerns about issues such as bullying, mandatory overtime, intense surveillance, break-neck production targets and much more besides.

“Our union is calling on the company to make a clear commitment and sign up to a declaration of neutrality. 

“If the company is genuine then it should be more than happy to sign the declaration.”

An Amazon spokesman said: “We respect our employees’ right to join, form or not to join a labour union or other lawful organisation of their own selection.

“Across Amazon, including in our fulfilment centres, we place enormous value on having daily conversations with each associate and work to make sure direct engagement with our employees is a strong part of our work culture.

“The fact is, we already offer excellent pay, excellent benefits and excellent opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern work environment. The unions know this.”

Unite’s confidential Action on Amazon hotline can be reached on (0800) 014-1461 or at actiononamazon.org/hotline.

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