Protests put pressure on Amazon to pay ‘living wage’ as council votes to adopt salary standard

Protestors will gather later today outside the UK head office of online retailer Amazon in London to push the global firm to increase pay for warehouse staff.

Amazon, which has a giant depot in Hemel Hempstead, has been regularly criticised in the past for tough employment rules and pay rates, and has also been in the firing line for the low amount of tax it pays in the UK.

A new campaign group called Amazon Anonymous now aims to act as a hub for anti-Amazon activism, organising actions, providing access to alternative vendors, and contact points for Amazon workers who want to press for union recognition.

Thousands of warehouse staff are allegedly paid below the ‘living wage’ rate of £7.65 an hour.

Emily Kenway, who started a petition which has attracted 55,000 signatures, said: “I’ve started Amazon Anonymous with the help of friends because it’s time to take coordinated action.

Our website will bring together the various strands of opposition to Amazon, including tax and wage campaigners, unions, and alternative vendors, to act in coalition and finally make this company see sense.”

Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “We have accredited more than 550 leading employers who recognise that clinging to the national minimum wage is not good for business. Customers expect better than that.

“In January, David Cameron showed support for the Living Wage, saying that where companies can pay the Living Wage, they should.

“But it’s more than a moral argument, businesses have found that the benefits of paying the Living Wage include improved staff motivation and productivity.

“The Living Wage Foundation is more than happy to share these findings with Amazon and help them determine how best to introduce the Living Wage in their business.

“The best employers are not waiting for government to act. They are voluntarily signing up to pay the current Living Wage of £7.65 for the UK and £8.80 for London, which is a robust calculation that reflects the real cost of living, rewarding a hard day’s work with a fair day’s pay.”

Lower paid workers at Dacorum Borough Council will see their minimum hourly wage increase after councillors agreed this week to follow national Living Wage principles.

Pay rates will increase on April 1, in a move which will cost around £25,000 a year.

Councillor Nick Tiley, the council’s portfolio holder for finance and resources, said “The Living Wage is part of a campaign led by the Living Wage Foundation and Citizens UK.

“It is an informal benchmark, not a legally enforceable level of pay, like the national minimum wage is. Adopting the Living Wage principles affects only a small number of our employees.

“However, the basic idea is that these are the minimum pay rates needed to let workers lead a decent life and I am pleased that the council is able to support our lower paid staff in this way.”