November 30, 2017

More for them — Amazon is totally unconcerned with paying its Scottish employees a living wage


The beauty of the Amazon Dunfermline depot.

What’s the trade-off for selling your soul and working for the evil Amazon empire? Why, a salary below the living wage of course! At least if you work in Scotland.

Starting pay for most Amazon employees in Scotland is £7.65 an hour ($10.26 US), and if they stick around for two years they could move on to earn a whopping £8.50 ($11.40). The Living Wage Foundation reckons a living wage in the UK (save London, where it’s higher) at £8.75 per hour ($11.74), calculated by analysing living standards in the country. In Scotland, a government-funded Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative recognizes employers that meet that benchmark.

According to Hamish Macdonell at the Times, Amazon has received more than £5.3 million ($7.1m) of taxpayer money to help create jobs in Scotland, but it has yet to join the Scottish government’s “fair work” programme.

Last year, an investigation found shocking regulations imposed on Amazon employees at the Dunfermline depot in Fife. Philip Gates of the Scottish Sun revealed that the company had been penalizing workers for each sick day they took, and taking four to six sick days could result in dismissal. Craig Smith of the Scottish Courier reported finding tents near the depot in which workers were sleeping to cut down on the time and money spent on commuting. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP told Smith:

“Amazon need 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.

“The fares the company charge for transport swallow up a lot of the weekly wage which is forcing people to seek ever more desperate ways of making work pay.”

This week, the Bookseller’s Katherine Cowdrey writes that that Scottish cabinet secretary for fair work, Keith Brown, met with Amazon managers in December last year. The minutes from their meeting read:

Amazon explained that [adopting the living wage] was not a decision they could take locally and would have to be subject of a national agreement by their senior management. They agreed to look into it.

A year later and nothing has happened. A spokesman for Amazon told Macdonell at the Times:

“Amazon is proud to be a significant contributor to the economy in Scotland, including investing hundreds of millions of pounds in our Scottish operations over the past five years and today supporting around 2,500 competitively paid jobs at our development centre and customer service centre in Edinburgh, and fulfilment centres in Gourock and Dunfermline.”

So competitive that workers can’t actually afford to live. Well done, Amazon. You keep on destroying humankind.



Nikki Griffiths is the managing director of Melville House UK.