SCOTS have backed a campaign to secure trade union rights for Amazon workers as an ITV News investigation reveals how the corporation sends unsold items to landfill.

An undercover investigation from inside the multi-national's Dunfermline warehouse revealed how laptops, books and even face masks were marked for destruction.

This included unsold goods as well as others returned by customers.

A former employee told the broadcaster that "our target was to generally destroy 130,000 items a week".

ITV says it tracked some of the binned items to a recycling centre and others to landfill.

However, Amazon disputed this, saying: "We are working towards a goal of zero product disposal and our priority is to resell, donate to charitable organisations or recycle any unsold products.

The National:

"No items are sent to landfill in the UK. As a last resort, we will send items to energy recovery, but we're working hard to drive the number of times this happens down to zero."

The investigation comes on the web giant's Prime Day promotion, one of the most important business events on its calendar.

And it coincides with the publication of new findings by the Unite union, which is campaigning for trade union rights for directly-employed Amazon workers and for its workers in the gig economy.

The poll of 2000 UK residents conducted by Survation for Unite found the public are now likely to view Amazon workers as key workers by a margin of 2:1 as a result of their work through the health crisis.

Almost half of respondents say they have changed their view of Amazon workers and now value them more than they did before the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic.

More than 80% of Scots and over 75% of respondents in the UK as a whole said Amazon workers should be able to join a trade union if they choose to, without interference from their employer.

That's after Amazon hired anti-trade union consultants before a ballot on unionisation in Alabama. The company denies interfering in the vote, in which staff rejected unionisation.

The National:

For workers indirectly employed in the gig economy by Amazon, 78% of Scots and 74% across the UK agreed Amazon has a responsibility to provide them with fair working conditions.

The union is now calling on Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to sign up to a "declaration of neutrality" which includes commitments that recognise workers’ rights to unionise.

Amazon, which expects to have a workforce of 55,000 in the UK by the end of this year, says it offers "competitive pay and benefits from day one". This includes an hourly rate of £9.50 outwith London, where rates are £1-per-hour higher.

In Scotland, it has bases in Dunfermline, Gourock and Edinburgh staffed by thousands of people. 

None of its UK warehouses is currently unionised. The company says it respects the rights of staff to join a union and managers "work to make sure direct engagement with our employees is a strong part of our work culture".

The e-tailer says it offers "excellent pay, excellent benefits and excellent opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern work environment".

The National:

However, Unite executive officer Sharon Graham said: "Amazon workers have played a crucial part in people’s lives during the pandemic and the public expects fair employment practices and decent terms and conditions.

"The public strongly supports Amazon workers’ right to trade union representation regardless of whether the workers are directly employed or if they work in the gig economy."