Minister holds talks with Amazon amid workforce concerns

Economy secretary Keith Brown has held a 'productive' meeting with senior figures at Amazon
Economy secretary Keith Brown has held a 'productive' meeting with senior figures at Amazon
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The economy secretary has held a “productive meeting” with Amazon bosses following allegations of unacceptable working conditions at its largest UK distribution centre.

Keith Brown said the internet retailer has agreed to consider his requests that it becomes involved in the Scottish Government’s Fair Work agenda, paying the real living wage.

His visit came after reports staff at the company’s Dunfermline depot in Fife could face the sack if they are off sick for four days, even if they have a doctor’s note.

Speaking after his visit to the Dunfermline depot yesterday, he said: “I asked them a series of questions around personnel and transport related-issues, which had been the subject of recent media reports.

“I then made a series of requests of the senior management team including in relation to becoming involved in our Fair Work agenda through the fair work convention, paying the real living wage and trade union activity in the workplace

“They have agreed to consider these requests and to a further meeting in the course of the next two to three months.

“These jobs are important to Scotland’s economy – 4,500 at its current peak and 1,800 permanent employees – and so it’s crucial that we continue to work with Amazon to help deliver fair work practices.”

Amazon said all permanent and temporary Amazon workers start on £7.35 an hour or above, regardless of age, and £11 an hour and above for overtime.

A company spokeswoman said: “Amazon provides a safe and positive workplace with competitive pay and benefits from day one. We are proud to have been able to create several thousand new permanent roles in our UK fulfilment centres over the last five years.”

She added: “As with nearly all companies, we expect a certain level of performance from our associates. Productivity targets are set objectively, based on previous performance levels achieved by our workforce.

“Associate performance is measured and evaluated over a long period of time as we know that a variety of things could impact the ability to meet expectations in any given day or hour. We support people who are not performing to the levels expected with dedicated coaching to help them improve.”