LONDON – Amazon U.K. is standing its ground after allegations of poor working conditions at its Scotland depot following an undercover investigation by The Sunday Times of London.
The story, published on Dec. 11, said holiday workers at Amazon U.K.’s sorting depot in Dunfermline, Scotland, are being threatened with job termination if they call in sick for four days.
The undercover reporter, who was hired by PMP Recruitment as a stock picker at the depot, also revealed there are penalty points — eventually resulting in dismissal — for sickness, lateness, absence, errors or not hitting productivity targets.
The reporter, who worked 10 hours a day with two paid 15-minute breaks and one unpaid 30-minute lunch break, flagged tough working conditions and a lack of water for employees. The story said a number of workers camped near the factory to save money on transport to and from work.
“Amazon provides a safe and positive workplace,” said a company spokeswoman in a statement.“The safety and well-being of our permanent and temporary associates is our number-one priority. We are also proud to have been able to create several thousand new permanent roles in our U.K. fulfillment centers over the last five years.”
The statement went on to say that Amazon pays competitive wages, with all permanent and temporary associates starting at 7.35 pounds, or $9.28 — or above — per hour regardless of age. They earn 11 pounds, or $13.90, an hour and above for overtime.
Amazon is the latest mass retailer to come under fire from unions and the press for the work practices in its distribution centers.
Last month the distribution depot employees of Arcadia Group, owner of Topshop, kept their promise to strike on Cyber Monday. More than 50 workers from the logistics operation unit, based in Solihull, West Midlands, England, were locked in a minimum-wage dispute. The GMB Union helped workers protest outside of the Spectrum for Arcadia, a division of DHL. The logistics company fulfills orders for Arcadia labels such as Topman, Topshop, Burton and Miss Selfridge.
Earlier this year, the British fast-fashion e-tailer Asos robustly defended itself against accusations made by the GMB trade union that it exploits its factory workers in Yorkshire.
Buzzfeed had earlier reported that Asos employees were working under stressful conditions and had been issued contracts that allowed the company to terminate their roles without notice and dock pay for last-minute shift cancellations.