Amazon roasted by UK Government Select Committee

For now, this is just a general interest post. Only time will tell whether or not the detail is relevant to Havant and more specifically to 32 New Lane. Back in August, the CEO of Kingsbridge Estates refused to deny that the ‘intended occupant’ at that site is Amazon, citing the Non-Disclosure Agreement he was working under. The one local councillor who publicly claims to know for certain refuses to announce the fact but insisted at the recent HCS public community forum that he had personally signed no such agreement.

On Tuesday 15 November 2022, Brian Palmer, Head of Public Policy European Operations, Amazon, appeared as a witness before the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee. While we reference links to highlights from the video further down this post, in our view it’s well worth listening to the whole 24 minutes of this.

A few specific highights are shown below. Take the link on the left to jump to that point in the video.

Jump to linkhIGHLIGHT
Man vs MachineAndy McDonald MP (Middlesborough) questions the extent of AI/automation in an Amazon workplace. Palmer: “There are over 60 human led functions in a given fulfilment centre”
Employee vs third partyThe committee explores the split between Amazon direct employees and ‘Delivery Service Providers’ (an interesting alternate definition of ‘Delivery Service Partners’) and the rest of the ‘last mile workforce’
Surveillance of staffExploring the issues surrounding surveillance of employees in Amazon warehouse/logistics centres
Who owns the employee data and who has access to it?Andy McDonald highlights comments to the Department of Culture Media Support select committee by Dr. Matthew Cole of ‘The fair work project’
Collection of employee dataThe chairman, Darren Jones MP (Bristol), digs deeper on employee surveillance, causing Palmer to start to squirm.
Three strikes and you’re out policyJones: ”Do you track the productivity of the workers in your warehouses?’ Palmer: ‘Yes’.
Early in the tenurePalmer: “We don’t monitor performance when you’re starting at Amazon”
It’s really important that you answer this question“If somebody has three productivity flags on the system, can they be fired?”
Employee Relations track recordCharlotte Nichols MP (Warrington North) digs into Amazon’s employee relations track record
Analysis shows that November is the worst month for ambulance callouts to Amazon fulfilment centres.“That’s almost a 50% increase over the October figure in every year for the last five years.”
Isn’t it time Amazon recognised unions?Palmer: “I’m not an expert in employee relations here in the UK…”

Havant Civic Society at the Spring Heritage Festival

ON Saturday February 24, as part of the Spring Heritage Festival, Bob will be giving a talk on Havant’s Manufacturing Heritage. Take the link for details of how to book a place. The talk will cover a variety of businesses, some familiar, some less so, and some quite surprising. (New Lane is bound to get a mention or two!)