Mayor angered by Amazon protest

The GMB stages its Amazon protest in Doncaster yesterday (13 Feb 2013).
The GMB stages its Amazon protest in Doncaster yesterday (13 Feb 2013).

THE Mayor of Doncaster has attacked a union which yesterday staged a protest outside the town’s Amazon distribution centre over workers’ conditions and ‘tax dodging’ issues.

GMB members wanted to present anti-social behaviour orders at the fulfilment centre at Balby Carr Bank with messages saying ‘Pay your tax - the public are fed up subsidising Amazon’ and ‘Pay a living wage’.

But the Mayor, Peter Davies, attacked the union for endangering jobs and investment in the borough.

He said: “Amazon have brought 350 jobs to Doncaster and employ as many as 1,000 at peak times, and we are involved in delicate negotiations to bring more jobs to Doncaster, so this is not helpful.

“I am outraged by this protest and hope Amazon won’t be put off further development. Amazon are very happy with the local labour force so we want to encourage them.”

The GMB says Amazon pay its staff as little as £6.20 per hour – just above the national minimum wage of £6.19 per hour - and staff complain to the union about a culture of bullying and harassment.

Paul Clarke, GMB national organiser, said: “Amazon relies on large numbers of staff to receive the goods, and to pick and pack them to meet customer orders.

“Where it differs from other retailers is its refusal to pay proper taxes or to treat its workers properly. Profitable companies like Amazon, dodging fair taxes while failing to pay their staff a living wage and treat them properly, deserve a corporate ASBO.

“This gives Amazon an unfair competitive advantage and is part of the reason why so many established high street names are going to the wall.

“Paying a minimum wage rather than a living wage obliges taxpayers to top up wages for staff with families and is a subsidy to a company paying no corporation taxes.”

A spokesman for Amazon said yesterday: “We are proud of providing our associates with a safe and positive working environment, which includes on-the-job training and opportunities for career progression. We offer a competitive package which includes base wage and performance-related pay which increases take home pay for most employees.

“Amazon has invested over £1 billion in its UK operations and employs more than 5,000 permanent employees across the UK. Amazon pays all applicable taxes in every jurisdiction that it operates within.”