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WORKERS protested outside an Amazon warehouse today at “truly shocking” conditions, including unrelenting pressure to hit targets that caused one woman to suffer a miscarriage.
Ambulances were called out more than 100 times in the last three years at the online retail giant’s site in Rugeley, Staffordshire, which the GMB union says is “one of the most dangerous places to work in Britain.”
The union has uncovered appalling cases of abuse, such as a heavily pregnant woman being forced to stand for 10 hours a day picking orders.
When she asked to change duties, her manager told her: “It’s not what you want, it is what we decide.”
Another pregnant woman was reportedly worked so hard she had a miscarriage.
Earlier this year, GMB revealed that ambulances were called out 600 times to Amazon warehouses across Britain.
At the Rugeley site alone, ambulances were called 115 times in the last three years, with workers receiving treatment for major trauma, electrocution, convulsions and chest pains.
GMB said that at a similar-sized supermarket distribution warehouse just a few miles away, there were only eight call-outs in the same period.
Regional organiser Rebecca Mitchell said: “The stories we hear from inside Amazon Rugeley are nothing short of disgusting.
“Hundreds of ambulance call-outs, pregnant women telling us they are forced to stand for 10 hours a day, pick, stow, stretch and bend, pull heavy carts and walk miles – we've even heard of a woman miscarrying at work.”
But she said Amazon “keep burying their head in the sand and claiming nothing is wrong, even in the face of cast-iron proof.”
The woman forced to stand while heavily pregnant, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “When I found I was pregnant, I asked my manager to be transferred to a different department.
“I was told I could not be transferred and must continue picking, which involves bending, stretching and moving a heavy cart, and walking miles.
“After a while, I told them I could not walk so many miles and I could not pick from low locations. I had a meeting with a safety manager and was told: ‘It’s not what you want, it is what we decide.’
“My manager told me that most women are working on picking until their maternity leave. I know this is true, because I saw ladies with huge bumps picking.”
Local Labour MP Jack Dromey said: “A number of my constituents work at the Amazon site in Rugeley and some of the press stories of ambulance call-outs and worker mistreatment at the warehouse are truly shocking. Amazon must hear the voice of its workforce.
“In my 40 years of experience in the world of work, I have never known a workplace like Amazon Rugeley where ambulances have been called over 100 times for sick and injured workers.”
A company spokesperson said: "Amazon is a safe place to work … [which] has 43 per cent fewer injuries on average than other transportation and warehousing companies in the UK."
Responding to the miscarriage allegation, the company added: “We are unable to comment on this case as we don’t have any information.”
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