Union campaigners take to town High Street to highlight their concerns about Amazon

By Neil Speight

28th Jul 2021 | Local News

UNION activists bidding to highlight working practices at Amazon distribution centres - including the one in Tilbury - took to Grays High Street today (Wednesday, 28 July).

Not only were they campaigning for workers' rights, they also turned their attention to the processes of price gouging, when businesses heavily inflate the price of products or services that are in high-demand, saying that Amazon has been at the forefront of the practice during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The protestors were members of the Unite union who say Amazon has exploited vulnerable and older people who have had to stay at home during the pandemic. The union says those who relied on home deliveries would have been particularly exposed to inflated prices for essential items on the Amazon website and it is calling for Amazon to repay the overcharges.

The union has cited two instances of 'price gouging', saying Carex antibacterial hand lotion usually costs around £1. In March 2020 the price on Amazon increased to £26.41. The price of a Braun Thermoscan 7 digital thermometer shot up more than £100 – going from £39.99 to £149.99.

In total Unite has identified 50 items which it says have been sold on the Amazon site for at least double their usual price from March 2020 to November 2020 onwards. They include soap, antibacterial spray and wipes, washing up liquid, hand wash, bleach, thermometers, face masks, toilet paper, disposable gloves, sanitary products, vitamins, toothpaste, health creams, tea and tinned food.

Campaigners in Grays also raised awareness of what they claim are Amazon's poor working conditions and anti-trade union tactics. The union is calling on Amazon to sign up to a declaration of neutrality, which includes commitments that recognize workers' rights to unionise.

Sharon Graham, Unite Executive Officer for Organising and Leverage said: "Amazon is steeped in corporate irresponsibility, from its anti-union tactics to tax avoidance. Now Amazon stands accused of profiting from price gouging on its website at the height of the pandemic when vulnerable people were most at need. It's time for Amazon to be held to account."

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