Express & Star Comment: Questions remain at Amazon

The protests surrounding online giant Amazon raise serious questions about working conditions at some of our major retailers.

GMB union protesters outside Amazon at Rugeley
GMB union protesters outside Amazon at Rugeley

Demonstrators were outside the gates of the firm's huge Staffordshire warehouse at 6am yesterday, in a bid to highlight what they described as 'the plight' of workers at the depot.

Union bosses said Amazon staff were 'treated like slaves and robots', and alleged they were reprimanded for taking toilet breaks.

While this is a claim that the firm refutes, the number of accusations of poor working conditions that have mounted up against Amazon is undeniable.

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Union bosses say staff are threatened with disciplinary action if they fall behind with their work, while one worker at the Rugeley site described the job as 'slave labour'.

It is all well and good the firm dismissing the protests.

Amazon is one of the biggest employers in Staffordshire and must take every possible measure to ensure its staff are well treated.

It should not be forgotten that Amazon has faced criticism over its working conditions in the past.

It has also been hit by sizeable protests in Italy and Germany in recent months, with union bosses claiming staff were being forced to work exhausting shifts for low wages.

Complaints about working conditions have dogged the Rugeley site since it opened.

But this is not just a local issue, it is an international one.

And while Amazon is certainly not alone among the major retailers in coming in for criticism, it is the firm's duty to take steps to allay people's concerns.

If it is unwilling to take action, then the Government must step in.

Our lawmakers have an obligation to protect the country's workforce.

There is absolutely no reason for workers in 21st century Britain to face substandard conditions.

Amazon's insistence that it offers 'great jobs and a positive environment with opportunities for growth' is being queried by a significant number of staff.

It will be interesting to see if Cannock Chase MP Amanda Milling takes the concerns of Amazon employees on board.

For the moment, we are left with more questions than answers.

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