Amazon plans to hire 1,000 permanent staff at its UK distribution centres to meet growing demand for goods online.
Britain’s biggest online retailer employs 6,000 people at its warehouses and customer service centres in the UK. It will take on the extra staff in the next few months.
Amazon’s eight “fulfilment centres” are in Doncaster, Dunfermline, Gourock, Hemel Hempstead, Milton Keynes, Peterborough, Rugeley and Swansea Bay.
John Tagawa, the director of UK operations at Amazon, said: “Over the past two years, we have added well in excess of 2,000 new employees to our workforce and we are delighted to be able to add a further 1,000 to that number over the coming months. As we see greater demand, we are able to rapidly grow our talented team across the UK.”
The company, which has faced criticism over working conditions at its warehouses, said permanent employees now work four 10-hour shifts a week, giving them three days off and saving them time and money. Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecoms billionaire, has called for employees to work three days a week, offset by longer hours and a later retirement to increase wellbeing and productivity.
Amazon said permanent employees start on an average wage of £7.39 an hour and earn up to £8.90 an hour after two years. The minimum wage for workers aged 21 or more is £6.50. Salaries can be increased by share grants and staff get private medical insurance, a company pension plan, life assurance and an employee discount.
Last year, a BBC investigation alleged that an undercover reporter, working as a “picker” at the Swansea site, was expected to collect an order every 33 seconds while walking up to 11 miles during a night shift of 10 and a half hours. Amazon said at the time it warned employees some jobs were physically demanding.
Amazon launched in the UK in 1998 and has become Britain’s most popular retail website, with more visitors than Argos, Next and Tesco. It sells a vast array of goods and recently won an award for offering the best customer service in the UK.
But despite providing jobs, Amazon has faced criticism for avoiding UK tax. Amazon.co.uk recorded sales of more than £3.3bn in Britain last year, but paid no corporation tax on any of the profits from that income.
The European Union has launched an investigation into Amazon’s tax arrangements in Luxembourg, where its business takes sales from across Europe including the UK.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010