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GMB Conference 2024 Labour must ban public contracts to union-busting companies like Amazon, GMB conference says

LABOUR must outlaw public contracts to companies that fail to recognise unions, GMB annual conference moved today.

Sir Keir Starmer was urged to make good on his words and ban public funds being given to any part of retail giant Amazon.

The anti-union firm’s web services arm secured £894 million from three government cloud-based contracts in December.

Amazon workers’ branch delegate Garfield Hylton cited the Labour leader’s comments to the conference last year: “There is a framework for public procurement at the heart of which is dignity and respect, and we expect to see unionised jobs and support unionised industries.”

He said: “Now is the time to rein in Amazon and make them pay. I’m putting my faith in you, Keir Starmer and the incoming Labour Party, to make good on your words from our past conversations.

“We want fair pay, to be treated with dignity and respect and stop being slave-driven.

“This congress strongly believes that it is wrong for public funds to be paid out to companies that deliberately conspire … to deny workers’ rights to union recognition.

“We therefore resolve to campaign to commit the next Labour government to outlaw public-sector contracts being granted to companies that do not recognise trade unions.”

Mr Hylton told delegates that anti-union posters have appeared everywhere, even in toilet cubicles, in Amazon workplaces since GMB launched a legal claim alleging illegal anti-union tactics by the retail giant in April.

That was just days after GMB won the chance to hold a formal recognition ballot at the company; a date for the all-worker vote is expected imminently.

Union recognition would mean Amazon would be forced to sit down with GMB on matters relating to pay, hours and holidays for the first time anywhere outside the United States.

Seconding, fellow Amazon delegate Ceferina Floresca said: “It’s unconscionable that public funds are being funnelled into the coffers of employers like Amazon, who flagrantly disregard basic rights of their workers.

“The GMB staunchly believes that those who employ insidious tactics … should not be rewarded with lucrative public contracts.

“This is not merely a matter of policy: it’s a moral imperative that demands collective action.”

During his general secretary’s address, Gary Smith told conference: “Nothing demonstrates why work must change more than that fight for recognition at Amazon.

“We are on the cusp of a victory that’s going to send shockwaves around the world.” 

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