Following accusations that Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has been treating warehouse staff like robots, employees are fighting for better rights including sick pay and holiday pay.
News that ambulances had been called out to the retailer’s UK warehouses 600 times in the past three years led to the GMB union calling the group out on the unsafe working conditions.
Amazon said that it was “simply not correct to suggest that we have unsafe working conditions based on this data or on unsubstantiated anecdotes. Requests for ambulance services at our fulfilment centres are predominantly associated with personal health events and are not work-related. Nevertheless, ambulance visits at our UK fulfilment centres last year was 0.00001 per worked hour, which is dramatically low.”
The GMB union announced on Monday that it would represent drivers employed by Amazon, which classes them as self-employed.
“The drivers were required to attend scheduled shifts that were controlled by Amazon, meaning they did not have the flexibility that is integral to being self-employed. In this situation, the couriers were treated like employees in terms of their working hours and the GMB union contends they should be treated as employees in terms of their rights too,” said the union in a statement.
The gig economy is facing various legal disputes including employers such as Uber, Citylink and Deliveroo. In 2016, Uber was told that drivers should be classed as employees with the rights to a minimum-wage.
“The day to day reality for many of our members who deliver packages for Amazon is unrealistic targets, slogging their guts out only to have deductions made from their pay when those targets aren’t met and being told they’re self-employed without the freedom that affords,” said GMB’s general secretary, Tim Roache.
“Guaranteed hours, holiday pay, sick pay, pension contributions are not privileges companies can dish out when they fancy. They are the legal right of all UK workers, and that’s what we’re asking the courts to rule on.”