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Amazon Link To Tolpuddle 180th Anniversary

Monday, March 17, 2014

On Tolpuddle Martyr’s 180th Anniversary GMB Call For Impeding Workers Human Rights On Unions To Be Made A Criminal Offence

Exercising rights to freedom of association and liberty in workplaces such as Amazon is the same concern as the Martyrs and we celebrate their slogan "We raise the watchword liberty. We will we will we will be free" says GMB

On the 180th anniversary of the Tolpuddle Martyrs being found guilty GMB is seeking to make it a criminal offence for employers like Amazon to impede the fundamental human rights of workers to ask a union to assist them to deal with issues they have at work.

On 17th March 1834 the five labourers- James Brine, James Hammett, George Loveless, James Loveless, Thomas Standfield, and John Standfield -  were found guilty in Dorchester of being trade union members and sentenced to seven years transportation to the penal colony in Australia. They were deported from Portsmouth on 11th April 1834.

Amazon has operations in Croydon, Doncaster, Dunfermline, Edinburgh, Gourock, Hemel Hemstead, Milton Keynes, Peterborough, Rugeley, Swansea, Slough, Holborn in London, Dublin and Cork. Amazon told the press in Feb 2013 it employs more than 5,000 permanent employees across the UK and a further 10,000 to 15,000 casual staff throughout the year.

Amazon plans to double the number of warehouses it operates in Britain in the next three years.

Last week in Berlin GMB met VerDi that organizes Amazon workers in Germany. The aim of the meeting was to discuss how to combine to ensure that Amazon improves security of employment, treats workers fairly and pays them a wage they can live on in their distribution chain in the UK and elsewhere in the EU.

GMB told VerDi that unlike in Germany union activity in the UK has to be kept underground for fear of reprisals. So hostile are employers like Amazon, that union organisation is driven underground adopting the tactics of the French resistance or human rights campaigns in totalitarian regimes.

The law in Germany better protects rights to organize and workers at some of Amazon's German warehouses took strike action on 16/17 December 2013 over pay.

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said "180 years on from the Tolpuddle Martyrs, in 2014 too many employers like Amazon still seek to victimise those who stand up for their workmates and help organise unions.

Short of actual deportation, their methods are the same - fear, intimidation and the threat of the sack aided and abetted by the courts and cheered on in the right wing media.

It should bé a criminal offence for any employer to interfere with the fundamental civil rights of workers to ask a union to assist them to deal with issues they have at work.

At Amazon in the UK trade union organization is driven underground like the French Resistance by fear of victimisation.

GMB is supporting our members employed by Amazon and Next to overcome their bosses hostility so that they can demand their basic human rights.

GMB is campaigning for all workers in the UK to exercise rights they have under international charters to invite a union to their workplace to help them get a fair deal without fear of victimisation.

GMB fights for exercising rights to freedom of association and liberty in today’s workplaces as the Martyrs did in 1834 and celebrates their campaign slogan: "We raise the watchword liberty. We will we will we will be free".


Contact Martin Smith 07974 251 823 or Mick Conroy GMB Scotland 07921 289737 or Nadine Houghton GMB Croydon 07714 239227 or Mervyn Burnett GMB Wales 07980 753114

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