Amazon spreads Christmas cheer and improves pay for temporary staff

Christmas Tree And Bauble

The GMB union has given a guarded welcome to improved terms offered by Amazon as the online retailer prepares to hire 13,000 seasonal workers to process millions of daily orders before Christmas.

Amazon said it would pay the temporary staff £6.70 an hour – 20p more than the minimum wage – for their first 12 weeks of work. They would be guaranteed 20 hours’ pay a week and “the vast majority” would work 40-hour weeks, it said.

The GMB said Amazon had responded to its campaign for better working conditions. Last year seasonal workers were paid 1p an hour more than the national minimum and most were on zero-hour contracts.

Martin Smith, national organiser at the GMB, said: “You can’t live on it and it’s hugely subsidised by in-work benefits but it’s a small step in the right direction.”

On last year’s busiest day Amazon’s UK customers ordered 4.1m items, or about 47 items a second, processed by workers at eight giant “fulfilment centres”.

Amazon, which employs more than 6,000 permanent UK workers, is taking on about 2,000 fewer temporary staff than last year. The company said this was because it had hired 2,000 permanent staff in the past two years and was adding 1,000 more. Smith said most people who opted for seasonal work were looking for a permanent job.

Amazon said Christmas workers included students and people who return each year to earn extra money. Hundreds of the short-term workers are likely to get permanent jobs with the company, Amazon said.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Sean Farrell, for The Guardian on Monday 20th October 2014 16.52 Europe/London

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