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UK – Union lashes out at Amazon and Randstad

12 February 2013

The GMB union today announced protests against online retailer Amazon at various sites in the UK, criticising “casual” employment contracts that fail to offer job security. The union, which has almost 610,000 members, condemned Randstad for supplying temporary staff to the firm.

The union protest scheduled for tomorrow is aimed primarily at Amazon’s “failure to pay proper taxes and a living wage of £7.45 per hour to their employees and denial of their rights to union representation and collective bargaining”.  Amazon has paid no corporation tax in the UK for the last three years although they had sales of more than £7 billion in the UK.

The move by the union to equate the use of temporary staff to tax avoidance and combine the two issues in its protest is surprisingly hostile towards the staffing industry especially following the implementation of the Agency Workers Regulations at the end of 2011 which provides temporary workers with equivalent pay and conditions to permanent workers.  

The GMB went on to say, “It is not clear how many of the 15,000 staff the company [Amazon] claim to employ in the UK are employed directly by Amazon and in permanent full time jobs. Many GMB members working for the company are employed by Randstad, an employment agency, in casual or temporary jobs with no job security and no guaranteed incomes”..

It further claimed that Amazon pays some of its staff £6.20 an hour which is just above the national minimum wage and that employees work in a culture of bullying and harassment . The union lashed out against using recruitment services. The statement read: “Amazon uses Randstad to meet fluctuating demand for labour which is equivalent to selection at the dock gates in Victorian times and is casual labour of the worst kind.”


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Robinson Toms Recruitment

Sean Toms 12/02/2013 10:02 am

Amazons avoidance of UK CT is the real issue here they benefit from £7BN of UK consumers spend but make no contribution , yes they pay company NI or Randstad does but this is not the same.

That they use Randstad is a business norm , that worker contracts with Randstad are likely to be , on occasion , probably ones that also do not guarantee work reflects supply & demand market economics.

Those working on the minimum wage do not have , in this climate , a lot to bargain with , the GMB should be happy that the UK has a minimum wage , the big issue here is aggressive Amazon's tax avoidance it sucks.

Consumers should simply not use Amazon ( the best option ) or HM Government should get smarter to close down CT loopholes & transfer pricing to low tax domains used by the multinationals to avoid paying CT.

Eco Personnel (UK) Ltd

Carl Pitt 12/02/2013 8:24 am

Until there is clarity on how many of the 15,000 staff are in permanent full time jobs the statement has little value.
I suspect that, in line with many other organisations, Amazon are using a flexible business model which may not appeal to trade unions but have relevance to todays market place.
I do agree that Amazons ability to avoid CT (assuming they made profits - the article states sales not profit) is unjust to say the least.

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