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Amazon M20 New Junction To Cost Up To £90m

Friday, October 31, 2014

GMB Call For Amazon To Pay Full Cost Of Between £66m And £90m For New “Amazon” Junction 10a On M20 In Kent To Access Planned New Warehouse

Amazon pays little tax but relies on a road network funded by taxpayers for the business to business delivery of products to warehouses and for the business to customer delivery to private homes says GMB

GMB, the union for Amazon workers, is calling on Amazon to agree to meet the full cost of between £66m and £90m for constructing a proposed new M20 junction 10A in Ashford in Kent. There will be a public consultation on the proposed junction in Summer 2015.

The projected new junction is 700 metres south east of junction 10. It will allow access to a new Amazon warehouse to the north east of Highfield Lane, in Sevington near the M20. GMB has now seen written proof that this warehouse development is for Amazon. The details for the proposed new junction is set out at http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/road-projects/m20-junction-10a/ .

Last year it was reported that developers AXA Real Estate Investment Management and DMI Properties had submitted initial plans for the warehouse in Sevington near the M20.

Earlier this year GMB announced a public campaign to ensure the company agrees to decent pay and jobs at this new warehouse in Ashford. GMB will shortly announce the date for a public meeting to be held in Ashford.

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.

This Ashford campaign is part of an EU wide push by GMB, Ver.Di and CGT 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. There have been strikes at Amazon warehouses in Germany and France.

Martin Smith, GMB National Organizer, said “Amazon should be asked to pay the full cost of this new junction on the M20 that will allow access to a planned new Amazon warehouse in Ashford.

The public need to understand that the high tech way Amazon process orders and tracks inventory disguises that it is also a traditional labour intensive mail order retail business.

Where it differs from other retailers is its refusal to pay proper taxes or to treat its workers properly.  

It relies on a road network funded by taxpayers for the business to business delivery of products to warehouses and for the business to customer delivery to private homes. It relies on large numbers of staff to receive the goods, to pick and pack them to meet customer orders.

This gives Amazon an unfair competitive advantage and is part of the reason why so many established high street names are going to the wall.

It is time to strip away the high tech image and expose the exploitation involved in their business model.

The minimum starting rate for the 7,000 Amazon permanent staff is £7.10 per hour. Pay for casual and seasonal staff – who make up the vast majority of all 22,000 staff - earn £6.71 per hour. Paying just above a minimum wage rather than a living wage obliges taxpayers top up wages for staff with families and is a subsidy to a company paying no corporation taxes.

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.

Government and HMRC need to change the rules to ensure that Amazon pays proper taxes. In 2006 Amazon transferred its UK business to Luxembourg and reclassified its UK operation as simply "order fulfilment" business to qualify for lower taxes. The Luxembourg office employs 380 people. This abuse has to stop.”

End

Contact Martin Smith 07974 251 823 or Mick Conroy GMB Scotland 07921 289737 or Andy Prendergas07984 492726  or Mervyn Burnett GMB Wales 07980 753114 

 

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