Worker’s union GMB is urging the Co-Operative to remove Amazon lockers from 160 of its stores due to the online behemoth’s business practices.
GMB has been in discussions with the Co-op since March, claiming that Amazon “differs from other retailers is its refusal to pay proper taxes or to treat its workers properly.” These practices, the GMB claims, gives Amazon an unfair competitive advantage.
Martin Smith, GMB National Officer, said “GMB has had no further response to the points we raised in April with the Chief Executive’s office. We will intend take the issue to the wider membership of the Co-operative movement. Why it allows a competitor like Amazon floor space is hard to understand as Co-operative has a real cuckoo in the ethical nest.”
GMB raised its concerns in correspondence with the Co-op and Smith added: “Co-operative members need to know that union activity in the Amazon depots in UK has to be kept underground for fear of reprisals. So hostile are Amazon that union organisation is driven underground adopting the tactics of the French resistance or human rights campaigns in totalitarian regimes. GMB needs the support of Co-operative members to ensure that Amazon improves security of employment, treats workers fairly and pays them a wage they can live on in their distribution chain in the UK and elsewhere in the EU.”
Nick Folland, Chief External Affairs Officer at the Co-operative wrote in a letter to the GMB: “Here at the Co-operative Group we strongly consider balancing our ethical values when making decisions relating to our businesses’ operations. Elements of these values include; keeping communities thriving, inspiring young people and protecting the environment.
“Through our partnership with Amazon, currently placing lockers in 160 of our stores, we are meeting the needs of changing shopping habits, making our service offerings more relevant to a younger generation, giving consumers a reason to come to the high-street in their local community (where many of our stores are
located) and reducing environmental impacts as the miles to deliver and collect these products are reduced.
“If the Government or any regulatory authority were to look into the legality and ethics of any of our partners’ operations we would certainly take note of their conclusions. Additionally we will continue to monitor other possible products and services that meet our members’ and customers’ needs.”