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Amazon faces GMB Union Demo and ASBOs

By Chris Dawson February 12, 2013 - 2:58 pm

ASBOAmazon is due to be hit by demonstrations outside 9 of their biggest UK facilities tomorrow by the GMB, who apparently are upset at Amazon paying a penny above the minimum wage. The GMB are also planning to hand out fake Anti-Social Behaviour Orders to Amazon managers due to the company supposedly not paying enough tax in the UK

The thing is both of these accusations are a bit pointless. On the tax side, whilst Amazon undoubtedly pay as little tax as they can get away with, it’s the government who need to change the law. Until such time Amazon have a responsibility to their share holders to be as profitable as possible and that doesn’t include over-paying tax. Even if they wanted to it’s very unlikely the warehouse manager in say Doncaster, is in a position to influence Amazon’s tax affairs.

Probably the majority of Tamebay readers are either Amazon third party sellers, third party software suppliers, or are Amazon retail customers. If you don’t want your prices to go up then you probably don’t want Amazon to pay more tax than they have to.

Regarding the hourly rate Amazon supposedly pay their workers, these are casual workers and whilst many would probably love to work for Amazon, the reality is that they work for employment agencies and it’s they that are responsible for wages. Doubtless to get the contracts the agencies bid as little as possible which is why wages will be low, but the agencies will be taking their cut off the top. The GMB want a “living wage” of £7.45 per hour, whilst workers are currently paid £6.20, a penny above the minimum wage (set by the government).

There are often stories in the press about working conditions at Amazon, staff are expected to walk anything up to 15 miles per shift. They’re also expected to work to a certain rate, their performance is measured and it’s hard graft. It’s an honest day’s work though and probably no harder than being a Royal Mail delivery worker. If the alternative is unemployment and possibly being forced to work for a company for free, I know which I’d choose.

  • TheShopkeeper
    4 years ago

    Another waste of union subs. If you’re reading this and are paying your subs to the GMB do you really think tomorrow’s demo will change anything? If you think this is a good idea would you prefer workers at Amazon to be paid more and they have less staff? Because that’s what the outcome will be if this ever was to succeed. Which it won’t.

    • Dom
      4 years ago

      They would still need the same number of people to do the job even if they paid a living wage, Amazon would just make slightly less profit by not exploiting low paid workers.

      Not that it would make any difference to the Corporation Tax they pay in the UK.

      Should Unions just accept it and not try and get a better deal for workers?

    • 4 years ago

      Should unions not be holding their demo outside Randstad recruitment who supply the majority of the workers and doubtless take a hefty slice before paying the workers…. After all is the agency that are the largest employer of Amazon warehouse staff?

    • Dom
      4 years ago

      Amazon chooses the recruitment agency and could make it a condition of awarding the contract that staff supplied are paid a living wage. A demo outside Randstad recruitment would not get the same coverage either and most large companies only change their ways as a result of negative publicity

    • TheShopkeeper
      4 years ago

      If you think Amazon will change their ways because a few idiots stand outside their Fulfillment Centres you’re living in cloud cuckooland.

      The press about their corporation tax was REAL negative publicity and what’s been changed by Amazon in that regard?

  • Mark
    4 years ago

    I am surprised that they are not picketing the Edinburgh customer support centre (Waverley Gate). Whilst this is not their largest facility it is in the heart of the city and would get a lot of publicity.

  • Henrietta
    4 years ago

    Count your blessings!

    Minimum wage in the US is $7.25 an hour or £4.66 at today’s exchange rate. No NHIS and no statutory sick or holiday pay requirements either.

    It was $5.15 from 1997 to 2007 when it went up to $5.85. Last increase was 2009

    • 4 years ago

      The cost of living in the US is significantly lower than here for most things

    • Gary
      4 years ago

      There is a sense that we are going down the Monty Python “in my day” path with this one.

  • peaed off at workers.
    4 years ago

    Should be lucky too have a job , i dont care about min wage its bs should sack the lot of them and give me and 10000 others who are looking for work un greatful gits.

    • puddleglums rest
      4 years ago

      pleanty of work availble if your prepared to work for nowt

    • Gary
      4 years ago

      Try asking your family and see what answer you get?

      Probably the same answer that mine gave me!

  • NC
    4 years ago

    “…staff are expected to walk anything up to 15 miles per shift. They’re also expected to work to a certain rate, their performance is measured and it’s hard graft. It’s an honest day’s work though and probably no harder than being a Royal Mail delivery worker. ”

    Honest day’s work – not when you’re being paid £6.20 an hour.

    A Royal Mail delivery worker gets much more honest money.

    There’s an Amazon place 2 miles from here so I know folk who work there …

    Have you ever done any serious “hard graft” work in your life, Chris ? I have, & do.

    Certainly I’m looking to avoid lining the coffers of Amazon as far as possible. The demos might not embarrass the shameless or unshame-able but may help put/keep the issue in the public gaze, where it should be.

    • 4 years ago

      I’ve done some hard graft in my time, although admittedly in the last 10 years packing up eBay sales and a bit of typing is a snip in comparison.

      Unlike many I started work at 13 years old washing up in a bakery from 6am each day before school, I’ve mucked out horses, worked my way through university with shelf stacking and warehouse work, and then Mcdonalds, have done plenty of night shifts and at some points got home from work, fell asleep and rolled straight back out of bed and back to work six days a week.

      That I don’t have to do that now is mainly because I did it in the past and it helped me into other ways to make a living, but it did me no harm at the time.

  • Jimbo
    4 years ago

    Qu’ils mangent de la cheval

  • Gary
    4 years ago

    No different to working in a call centre with 200 calls queuing or working in McDonalds. Some of you simply don’t know what real work is and don’t live in the real world of work. Very few private employees are unionised these days which must be a little frustrating for the unions whose revenues keep falling year on year. All this is a bit of union PR. Nothing to do with Amazon. I spent 30 years in the real world of work, was positive about it, did very well as a result, and can now take it a little bit easier. It is about attitude nothing else.

    If you have ever been in the real world of work then you will appreciate that even with all the hoops that ebay throw at you selling on ebay and making a reasonable living at it is a walk in the park in when compared to the real world of work.

    • Andrew
      4 years ago

      I couldn’t agree more Gary

    • puddleglums rest
      4 years ago

      I miss the world of real work where I walked out the door at 5 or 6 pm and then had a life, the stress and bother left behind me

  • Gary
    4 years ago

    Never walked out the door at 6pm in the world of real work. There was always plenty of overtime everywhere so walked out the door at 10pm doing 20 or more hours of overtime a week at time and a half. Earnt more than those with titles who gave their overtime for free so why did I need a title?

    So even puddleglum has not had a real job!

    • puddleglum
      4 years ago

      assumptions ? I said what time I left not what time I started, which in fact was a hypothetical comment as in the past I have worked 18 hours shifts 7 days a week for months at at a time so your 20 hours of overtime is just about part time

    • Gary
      4 years ago

      Would agree that there are jobs where 18 hour shifts are normal so apologise for the assumption.

      And agree that you have to live with the stress 24/7 if you sell on ebay. It takes a special type of person to cope with that!

    • 4 years ago

      Me too Gary, when I was at McDonalds during Uni I was one of the highest paid there – I earned more than the first level salaried managers but I did put in the hours.

    • puddleglums
      4 years ago

      you must have been on at least a shilling a week then, lol,
      first level macdonalds salary managers earn less than beggers in a doorway lol

    • 4 years ago

      I managed to wangle a flat rate of £5 an hour, when most of my colleagues were on £3.25 basic, £3.50 evening and £3.75 late evening rate. Back in the late eighties as a student (with enough hours) I was doing quite nicely.

      Only disadvantage was that I never got a pay rise for all the years I worked there as I was so overpaid compared to everyone else at the start.

  • Gary
    4 years ago

    And one other thing.

    When the EU directive came in limiting working hours to 48 hours per week we were all asked on a voluntary basis if we would sign a form waiving our rights under this directive. Without exception we all did!

    This is the world of real work not the fantasy work created by politicians, eurocrats and local government where most of the union membership comes from and which is paid for by taxes levied on those in real work.

  • Gary
    4 years ago

    And packaging for Amazon for a year or two offers extremely good training in what is a very important part of ecommerce. You can learn a lot about what sells, storage, stock records and packaging logistics during your apprenticeship at Amazon.

    If this is is seen as a university for those wanting a career in ecommerce and getting paid for the training rather than borrowing £50000 to go on a “university” course then the insider knowledge that you gain combined with the Amazon training could set you up for life!

    It is all about attitude and how you approach your real work.

    • Jimbo
      4 years ago

      All this nonsense about “real job”, “real work” and then this nonsense: “And packaging for Amazon for a year or two offers extremely good training in what is a very important part of ecommerce. You can learn a lot about what sells, storage, stock records and packaging logistics during your apprenticeship at Amazon”. If you really believe that you definitely haven’t had a “real job”. Maybe you worked in a Worcester sauce factory for six weeks. How old are you?

    • NC
      4 years ago

      I take it you don’t know anyone working at an Amazon warehouse, I do.

  • Gary
    4 years ago

    Old enough to know that a job is what you make of it.

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