Unions push for recognition at Amazon

Unions
in Europe and North America are stepping up claims for recognition and better
working conditions at Amazon.com, the online books and entertainment retailer.

Representatives
from unions in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the US will meet in
Washington on 1 March to discuss a coordinated campaign.

Peter
Lockhart, regional Graphical Media and Printing Union organiser for the South
Midlands, where Amazon.com’s UK staff are based, said the 250 UK staff at the
book-packing centre near Bedford face "Victorian working methods" and
a basic rate of £5 an hour.

The
GPMU has 52 members at the Bedford site ñ up from 17 before Christmas. This is
above the 10 per cent threshold to trigger a ballot for union recognition, but
below the 50 per cent for automatic recognition.

Lockhart
said, "Recognition is our ultimate goal, but we are trying to raise our
profile among workers at the company and indicate to Amazon that our efforts
are not piecemeal."

A spokesman for Amazon.co.uk said, "We offer our
employees an excellent compensation package which includes competitive base
pay, performance bonuses, benefits including private health care, long-term
disability cover and a non-contributory pension. We also have a works
council."

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