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Ambulance callouts to Amazon warehouses surge almost 50% in the run up to Black Friday

by our Industrial reporter @TrinderMatt

AMBULANCE call-outs for health concerns at Amazon warehouses have almost doubled in the run up to Black Friday, with “horrific” reports of workers being sacked for raising Covid-19 concerns, GMB warns.

The general workers’ union said that data obtained via freedom of information requests from four ambulance trusts that cover major Amazon sites show that, over a five-year period, November is the worst month for emergency calls. 

Demand for ambulances grew by 46 per cent between October and November this year as the multinational delivery giant piled on the pressure to fulfil orders, GMB charged.

Newly uncovered accident investigation reports obtained by the union reveal an “alarming safety culture” at Amazon, including at the Coventry fulfilment centre, where serious injuries to fingers, limbs and backs caused by collisions with equipment and repetitive strains have been reported. 

In April 2020, a complainant to Sunderland City Council said that a company driver who raised concerns about coronavirus restrictions not being followed was “verbally threatened” and told that he was banned from the site. 

And in 2018, an inspector from West Northamptonshire Council said that, despite a number of injuries at the firm, it was “difficult to find evidence of training and management outcomes of accident investigations.”

The revelations come as GMB is set to stage protests at many of Amazon’s sites across Britain today, including at Coalville, Coventry, Peterborough and London.  

The union is calling on the company to enter into urgent talks to address its health and safety record.

GMB national officer Mick Rix said: “Workers are breaking bones, being left in pain at the end of a shift and getting barred from work for raising Covid complaints. 

“Amazon can’t deny it any longer. GMB calls on the Health and Safety Executive to investigate these inhumane working practices.

“This company is a pandemic profiteer [and] can afford to do better.”

An Amazon spokesperson claimed that its critics are “using incomplete information that’s without context and designed to intentionally mislead.

“The vast majority of ambulance call-outs are related to pre-existing conditions, not work-related incidents.

“Rather than arguing with critics who aren’t interested in facts or progress, we’re going to keep listening to our 55,000 employees and working hard to keep investing and improving,” they said. 

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