Amazon workers call in protests at Dunfermline warehouse over working conditions

Anti-exploitation activists protest at Amazon site in Dunfermline

WORKERS at an Amazon warehouse in Dunfermline have called in protests by young anti-exploitation activists over working conditions in the wealthy corporation’s shipping operation.

Activists from campaigning groups including Better than Zero (BtZ) and Fife People’s Assembly organised the protest today (25 November) to co-inside with ‘Black Friday’ the busiest shopping day of the year which sees the online market’s business soar.

The protest comes after complaints from workers to CommonSpace over the use of agencies to employ staff at the company, and “arbitrary” changes to break times and overtime, which they say results in overwork. 

Speaking to CommonSpace, one Amazon worker at the Dunfermline site said: “Amazon are a multi-billion pound company yet workers at the site here in Dunfermline are employed via agencies with little job security and of course few union rights. I'm glad to see Better than Zero raise some of these issues and demand that Amazon treats its workers with respect and pays them a decent wage.”

“I'm glad to see Better than Zero raise some of these issues and demand that Amazon treats its workers with respect and pays them a decent wage.” Scottish Amazon worker

Amazon, which is the fourth most valuable corporation in the world, hit the headlines between 2011 and 2013 when investigations revealed poor working conditions in its warehouses from the US to Germany and the UK. Overwork and zero hours contracts were the norm in some warehouses, and the stories of current and former employees brought zero hours contracts, which do not give workers any guaranteed hours or income, to national attention.

Amazon told CommonSpace they no longer use zero hours contracts, but employee complaints of inadequate working conditions continue.

Protesters block shipments at the Amazon warehouse in Dunfermline

 

 

BtZ, founded by young trade unionists to campaign against exploitative working conditions including zero hours contracts and unpaid work, is frequently contacted by young workers complaining about conditions in the service sector.

Speaking to CommonSpace, a unite the union organiser, said: “We are taking action against Amazon as one of the most exploitative employers in the country. As we did with Sports Direct Unite the union are joining forces with Better than Zero to shut down their distribution plant in Dunfermline at the start of Black Friday.

Background: The young workers taking on exploitation in Scotland’s booming service industry

Responding to the criticisms from staff and campaigners, an Amazon spokesperson said: “Amazon is proud to be a significant contributor to the economy in Scotland, including investing hundreds of millions of pounds in our Scottish operations over the past five years and today supporting over 2,200 competitively paid jobs at our research and development centre as well as customer service centre in Edinburgh, and fulfilment centres in Gourock and Dunfermline.”

Amazon also said they abide by all legal stipulations regarding the regualrity of breaks, sick pay and other standards.

The demonstration marks the begining of a season of efforts by campaigners to hit the christmas profits of exploitative employers.

Further details of today’s protest can be found here.

Picture courtesy of Fife People’s Assembly

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