What started with photos of a handful of tents outside a Scottish Amazon warehouse has blown up. The Courier published pics over the weekend of what it said were the makeshift homes of "hard-pressed" Amazon workers now sleeping outside their place of employment to save on commuting costs, just a month or so after allegations from local activists that employees there toil under hard working conditions and poorly compensated for their efforts. Now a Liberal Democrat leader says the company should be "ashamed" for driving workers to pitch tents in the winter weather and is calling for changes to the way workers are treated and how much they make, per the Guardian. "[This] confirms that Amazon [has] created intolerable working conditions for many," Willie Rennie says.
Some of that intolerability, per an undercover Sunday Times probe, includes workers being threatened with pink slips if they call in sick too often, a lack of available water (despite some workers covering more than 10 miles per day in the warehouse), and a claim that workers are getting injured because of pressure to meet targets. Amazon addressed its 12 UK fulfillment centers, and specifically the one with the tents, by noting it "provides a safe and positive workplace with competitive pay and benefits from day one." All Amazon workers (permanent and temp) currently start at $9.30 an hour and can make at least $14 an hour in overtime (the UK's national living wage for people 25 and older is $9.10 an hour). Amazon adds "there are many opportunities for people who prefer less active roles," (i.e., ones with less walking) and "as with nearly all companies, we expect a certain level of performance from our associates." (Amazon's 30-hour workweek test.)