Union plea as online sales see shoppers splash out £900m
Campaign for better conditions as retailers enjoy Boxing Day rush
SCOTS shoppers caught up in a £900 million online post-Christmas sales frenzy have been urged to consider the plight of workers at Amazon and other online retailers as they hunt for bargains.
The traditional Boxing Day rush to buy items in online sales came as shoppers also flocked to the more traditional high streets and shopping centres for the sales.
The GMB union, which is campaigning for better conditions for workers in depots such as Amazon’s in Dunfermline, Fife, said the rise in “cyber-sales” highlighted the need for better conditions in depots that pack and distribute goods.
The union is also trying to win better deals for staff at online rivals ASOS and Top Shop.
Mick Rix, national officer for the GMB, said: “Boxing Day sales used to mean endless queues of bargain hunters lining up outside their favourite shops. But in this digital age, most people try to find their Boxing Day bargains online.
“What that means in reality is huge numbers of people forced to give up their Christmas break to pick and pack your products in enormous warehouses.
“And 2016 is a year in which some terribly exploitative practices appear to have been exposed.
“Amazon workers in Dunfermline are reportedly sleeping in tents just so they can get to work on time and are being penalised for being sick.
He added: “Please, think of how they will spend their Boxing Day when you embark on your sale searching spree.”
Earlier this month, Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said Amazon should be “ashamed” some workers at its Dunfermline site had reportedly chosen to camp outside the warehouse to save on travel costs.
A spokesman for Amazon said: “Amazon is proud to be a significant contributor to the economy in Scotland, including investing hundreds of millions of pounds in our operations over the past five years and today supporting more than 2,200 competitively paid jobs at our centres in Gourock and Dunfermline and our research and development centre and award-winning customer service centre in Edinburgh.”
People in search of Boxing Day bargains were up early yesterday, with officials at the Silverburn shopping centre in Glasgow, which has 120 stores, saying some were at the site at 4am.
At Glasgow Fort, in the east end of the city, shoppers arrived as early as 3am and at Union Square, Aberdeen, thousands of shoppers descended on its 80 stores, with queues beginning at 6am. Shopping centres said they expect crowds to continue throughout the rest of the festive break, with many people off work for nine days after Christmas.
However, a Barclaycard report said that just under a quarter of people in the UK, 23 per cent, were shopping in the sales, down from nearly a third (32 per cent) last year.
The figures suggest the incentive to buy in the sales has weakened following widespread discounting, including the so-called “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” sales.
However, the sales period is still figured to mean £2.95bn is spent on the high street, and another £900m online, said the Centre of Retail Research.