Furious Amazon workers lift lid on Sheffield working conditions during Black Friday protest

Amazon customers were today urged to consider the ‘human cost’ of their orders, as protesters demonstrated outside the retail giant’s Sheffield depot.

Friday, 29th November 2019, 12:21 pm
Updated Friday, 29th November 2019, 3:05 pm

GMB union members gathered outside the gates of the Colliery Road warehouse near Meadowhall this morning, Friday, November 29, to highlight what they called ‘appalling’ working conditions.

The protest was staged to coincide with Black Friday today and Cyber Monday next week, which are among the busiest days for online orders.

Sue Wood, senior organiser for the GMB, said: “The terms and conditions at Amazon for our workers here in Sheffield and elsewhere in the UK are appalling.”

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A demonstration outside Amazon's Sheffield depot on Colliery Road, near Meadowhall, against what the GMB union calls 'appalling' working conditions

“We’re aware that across the UK there have been 600 ambulances called over the last three years to employees at Amazon across all its sites for all sorts of things, a lot of things which are work related, People who are collapsing from exhaustion, people who have had strokes.

“There are also a lot of reports of women who have had miscarriages where ambulances haven’t even been called. They’ve been put on a bus and told to take themselves off to hospital, which just isn’t the right thing to do and we wouldn’t expect that in society today.

“We want shoppers to think about how Amazon can get its parcels to you so quickly and so cheaply. There’s obviously a human cost and that cost is to our members who are having to fulfil these orders. They’re not being treated properly, they’re not being paid very well and I would like people to think about that when they’re ordering online.”

“To Amazon, we say talk to the union and look at working with us to try to put these issues right.”

GMB members were joined by Louise Haigh, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Sheffield Heeley.

An Amazon delivery driver, who asked to remain anonymous, complained about what he said were long hours and a ‘hectic’ working day.

An Amazon spokesman said: “Self-interested critics have a vested interest in spreading misinformation about Amazon but the facts tell a different story. The truth is that Amazon already offers industry-leading pay, comprehensive benefits, as well as a safe, modern work environment.

“These groups are conjuring misinformation to work in their favour, when in fact we already offer the things they claim to be fighting for. You don’t have to take our word for it – or theirs. Come and see for yourself by registering for a tour at one of our fulfilment centres.”

Regarding the number of ambulance call-outs, he said that national data published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showed Amazon had more than 40 per cent fewer injuries on average than other transportation and warehousing businesses in the UK.