December 02, 2019
Amazon warehouse staff who can often walk miles during a single shift are “brassed off” about the retail giant’s alleged underpayment of corporation tax.
Amazon Worker Brassed Off Firm Doesnt Pay More Tax – Emergency Services Need It
“Why should we cover him?” one said, referring to CEO Jeff Bezos. “He’s got enough money.”
A mass demonstration was on Monday set to gather outside Amazon’s UK headquarters in London over claims of “millions” in “missing taxes”.
The worker pointed to the chronic underfunding of public and emergency services, saying Amazon paying more tax could help give nurses a “proper wage”.
Amazon fiercely denied the allegations and disputes the calculations of union GMB, saying they are “completely incorrect”. But it has declined to reveal precisely how much corporation tax it does pay.
The GMB union estimates that the global retail giant, which employs almost 30,000 people in the UK, had underpaid its taxes by as much as £89m – a figure it said could pay for thousands of public sector workers such as teaching assistants or nurses. 
One employee at a UK fulfilment centre, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing their job, told HuffPost UK that the subject of tax had been discussed among staff. 
They said: “It makes me feel brassed off, to be honest with you. He [Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos] should be paying properly so we can get a better health service – give the nurses a proper wage because they struggle.
“All the emergency services could do with more.
“He should pay. Why should we cover him? He’s got enough money.”
In September, The Times reported that Amazon paid a total of £220m in the UK in the last year, in spite of total revenues within the UK amounting to £10.9bn.
It was the first time reports on the taxes the company had paid had been made public in 21 years of trading in the UK, after coming under pressure from campaigners in recent years to increase transparency. 
Criticising GMB’s allegations, a spokesperson for Amazon said: “Among other things, they [GMB’s calculations] assume uniformity of profits across geographies, which isn’t the case. Our international consumer business is still investing heavily and is loss-making, as can be seen in our annual report.
“In the UK, we’ve invested £18bn since 2010 and we employ 29,500 people.
“We pay all taxes owed and our total tax contribution in the UK in 2018 was £793m – £220m in direct taxes and £573m in indirect taxes.”
Representatives from GMB, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), and shadow cabinet ministers including Laura Pidcock will take part in the demonstration outside Amazon’s Shoreditch HQ on Monday. The GMB estimated that Amazon should have paid £103m corporation tax in the past year – a figure that would rise to £142m under Labour’s plans to raise corporation tax to 26%.
It contrasts this with the £14m paid on £2.3bn worth of sales by Amazon’s biggest UK division, although total corporation tax figures were not available.
Mick Rix, GMB’s national officer, claimed: “Amazon’s tax loopholes and massive subsidies means our public services get a rough deal.
“Cash that could be used for thousands of carers, nurses or teaching assistants is being poured into Jeff Bezos’s coffers.
“This is a trillion-dollar company, and the government should be ensuring our underfunded public services are not being short-changed by a global wealth giant.”
The union estimates that £89m could pay for 5,800 teaching assistants, 4,400 carers, 2,300 nurses, or 1,700 paramedics for a whole year.
Demonstrators are also calling for safer working conditions for employees. 
In June last year the union said Freedom of Information requests revealed ambulances had been called 600 times to Amazon warehouses in the UK in three years.
The anonymous employee told us: “In some departments, the job is an accident waiting to happen. The picking can get extremely mundane, but some of the lads are OK. 
“You make some friends along the way but you can’t stop and chat to them or you’ll have someone on your back for idle time.
“You scan the item, it tells you what bin to go to, and you’ve just got to get there. Sometimes it’ll tell you to go to the furthest bin possible, only to make you come all the way back to where you’ve started.”
The employee, who has worked for Amazon for several years, said they regularly walked more than 10 miles during each shift and dealt with an average of about 1,000 items a day – working from 7.30am to 5pm.  
“Sometimes you can be rushing around all day, and other times there’ll be too many people in and you’ll just be waiting around.
“The only way we get over that is by having a laugh and a joke with one another – some of the bosses don’t mind but some of them will be a bit picky and pull you up on it.” 
Amazon strongly denies allegations of health and safety dangers within the workplace, stating that inaccurate statements had been shared by″self-interested critics” with a vested interest in spreading misinformation about Amazon”. 
The firm said: “The truth is that Amazon already offers industry-leading pay, comprehensive benefits, as well as a safe, modern work environment. 
“These groups are conjuring misinformation to work in their favour, when in fact we already offer the things they claim to be fighting for.”
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