Hard on their luck employees at Amazon have turned to sleeping in tents near the company’s fulfillment center in historic Fife, Scotland.
Campsites have recently been spotted in forests next to the internet retail titan’s base, triggering concern over the lengths to which some employees are going to hold onto their jobs.
Amazon utilizes a team of around 1,500 full-time employees at its Dunfermline fulfillment center but has hired an additional 4,000 seasonal workers in order to help cover the active Christmas and New Year season. The colossal warehouse in Scotland spans the area equal to approximately 14 football fields.
The company came under attack last month from advocates who asserted that company employees are putting in 60-hour work weeks for little more than minimum wage and are being dealt with poorly.
Fife People’s Assembly and also the Fife Trades Union Council organized a demonstration on Black Friday to protest Amazon’s exploitation of employees.
Scottish leader MSP Willie Rennie has voiced repeated concerns over the company’s apparent lack of prioritizing problems having to do with its personnel. After learning of employees resorting to living in the woods, Rennie is once again publicly criticizing the conglomerate.
“Amazon should be ashamed that they pay their workers so little that they have to camp out in the dead of winter to make ends meet,” Rennie informed The Courier. “Amazon needs to take a long, hard look at themselves and change their ways. They pay a small amount of tax and received millions of the pounds from the SNP Government so the least they should do is pay the proper living wage.”
One employee says he chose to camp near the warehouse to save money traveling from his residence in Perth, although he is finding much of his outdoor equipment is vanishing during his shifts. Employees have called Amazon an inadequate company with many functionality issues.
General Manager Paul Ashraf of Amazon UK insists that the company cares about its staff and is disappointed by the perception some people have of the business.
“I think from my point of view we’re a global brand, so that brings headlines in relation to what people think about Amazon and this place,” he told The Courier. “From my point of view I try to focus on what’s within my control. I focus very heavily, especially in peak times, on associate experience.
“We know it’s a very intense time for them, as it’s a month of hard work for everybody, but we’ve got to make sure that it’s safe for them and that they have fun along the way. That’s the key priorities. It’s hard work at this time of year, of course it is.
“We know it’s our busiest day of the year, which it was again this year, and we basically plan everything to make sure that it goes as smoothly as possible. Black Friday went very, very smoothly and Cyber Monday went very, very smoothly as well.
“We just focus on customer obsession, making sure we deliver the customer promises. Whatever we’ve promised a customer in terms of what’s going to be delivered, we make sure that it is processed and shipped on time. While we’re doing that, we make sure we keep people here safe, so it’s all about safety first, and make sure that from an associate experience point of view we try and have as much fun as possible.
“We had DJs on every floor on Black Friday, we had tombolas, we had raffles that people get free entry into — it’s all about keeping associates safe and having fun.”
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