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Amazon sets out its case in the face of ‘living wage’ pressure

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Online retailer Amazon has come under fire again for the way it treats employees – and this time campaigners want the firm to adopt a ‘living wage’ for workers.

Protesters gathered outside the global firm’s London head office on Friday to make their views known.

The call for a ‘living wage’ – higher than the minimum wage and calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK – comes as Dacorum Borough Council announced it is adopting the voluntary standard.

The ‘living wage’ rate is set at £7.65 an hour and will cost the council an extra £25,000 each year.

Amazon’s spokesmen did not comment on Friday’s protest but instead directed the Gazette to general information about the benefits staff at the company’s fulfilment centres – where goods are picked and packed –receive.

A total of 4,800 people are permanently employed at Amazon’s eight UK centres – one in Hemel Hempstead’s Boundary Way – and beginners start on £7.05 per hour, 11 per cent above the national minimum wage. This increases progressively to £8.02 after two years.

Permanent staff also get stock grants, which over the last five years have added an average of 12 per cent to base pay annually. This means that, on average, a worker with 24 months service will be earning £8.98 per hour for a day shift or £10.78 per hour on nights, says the firm.

There’s also private medical insurance, a company pension plan, life assurance, income protection and an employee discount.

On average temporary workers – drafted in at peak times such as Christmas – earn almost 90 per cent of Amazon permanent employees’ starting wages in thier first 12 weeks. After this they receive the same pay as permanent workers.

Director of the Living Wage Foundation Rhys Moor said: “We have accredited more than 550 leading employers who recognise that clinging to the national minimum wage is not good for business. Customers expect better than that.

“David Cameron has shown support, saying that where companies can pay it, they should.

“But it’s more than a moral argument, businesses have found that the benefits include improved staff motivation and productivity.”

>To view our previous article on this issue click here

 

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