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Protest over working conditions

10 September 2018

A GMB protest took place outside an Amazon depot, after more than 100 ambulance call outs for staff.

GMB, the Amazon union, protested on 6 September outside the company’s gigantic Rugeley warehouse after more than a 100 ambulances had to be called out for stricken staff - who say they are treated like robots.

During the past three calendar years at Amazon’s Rugeley site, ambulances were called 115 times, including three for women due to pregnancy/maternity and three for major trauma.

Other disturbing examples include electrocution, unconsciousness, the building being on fire and chest pains.

Meanwhile GMB members testimony reveals a woman in late pregnancy forced to stand for ten hours a day, another saying she suffered a miscarriage, and people working in constant agony.

At a similar sized supermarket distribution warehouse a few miles away, there were just eight call outs during the same period.

A recent meeting of MP’s into the Gig Economy was recently told by an Amazon worker about a woman who had a miscarriage as a result of the continuous pressure to work and hit targets. 34]

The woman in late pregnancy forced to stand, who asked, who asked to remain anonymous, said:

"When I found I was pregnant, I asked my manager to be transferred to a different department. I was told I could not be transferred and must continue picking, which involves bending, stretching and moving a heavy cart, and walking miles.

“After a while I told them I could not walk so many miles and I could not pick from low locations.  I had a meeting with a safety manager and was also told ‘it’s not what you want, it is what we decide’.

“My manager told me that most women are working on picking until their maternity leave.

“I know this is true, because I saw ladies with huge bumps picking."

Regional organiser at GMB Rebecca Mitchell said, “The stories we here from inside Amazon Rugeley are nothing short of disgusting.

“Hundreds of ambulance call outs, pregnant women telling us they are forced to stand for ten hours a day, pick, stow, stretch and bend, pull heavy carts and walk miles – we've even heard of a woman miscarrying at work.

“Amazon Rugeley must be one of the most dangerous places to work in Britain.

“Yet the company keep burying their head in the sand and claiming nothing is wrong  - even in the face of cast iron proof.

“We are here today to raise awareness of the terrible conditions Amazon force our members to work under.

“These issues need tackling and we're asking the company to meet with us to help improve the conditions for their workforce.”

MP for Birmingham Erdington Jack Dromey said “A number of my constituents work at the Amazon site in Rugeley and some of the press stories of ambulance call-outs and worker mis-treatment at the warehouse are truly shocking.

“Amazon must hear the voice of its workforce.

“I urge Amazon to build a working relationship with the GMB based on formal recognition as that will be crucial to tackling issues and concerns in the workplace, in the mutual interest of employees and the employer.”