Amazon.co.uk won't have to face the UK's Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) just yet, despite staff complaints over conditions at its Milton Keynes distribution centre.
Staff have complained to the Graphical, Paper and Media Union (GPMU) of long hours, poor facilities and a petty, oppressive atmosphere, according to the union, which is currently three months into a recruitment drive at the centre.
However, contrary to weekend press reports, the union said it had no immediate plans to ask ACAS to intervene, preferring instead to try and "initiate voluntary discussions" with Amazon.
GPMU deputy general secretary Tony Burke told vnunet.com that the union is yet to talk officially with Amazon. He also said that it has no current plans to push for a recognition ballot, despite having enrolled an estimated one third of the centre's staff in a recruitment campaign launched at the beginning of the year.
Under the terms of last June's Employment Relations Act, companies have to recognise unions when more than half of the workforce joins. Unions can also demand a recognition ballot once 10 per cent of staff enrol.
Amazon has disputed the claims and has said it believes it does the best it can for its employees, offering private health insurance and stock options. The firm also has a staff council.
Burke explained that Amazon was by no means the only culprit within the industry and that while dotcoms liked to portray their companies as havens of good practices, the reality was somewhat different.
He told vnunet.com: "Their public face is the door is always open, come in and have a chat, but the reality is that they're just like any other employer. Dotcom workers contact us most about job security, information on contracts and dignity at work problems such as harassment and bullying."
The GPMU says that nearly 3000 of its members are dotcom employees and that it has begun talks with two other dotcoms, one based in the UK and another in the US, over collective bargaining rights after more than half of workers in those firms took up union membership.
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