Amazon awarded public contracts worth £660 million, GMB reveals

Amazon has been awarded £660m worth of public contracts since 2015, according to a new GMB report.

The figures emerged as Shadow Pensions Minister Jack Dromey called for an HSE investigation of Amazon, at GMB’s Annual Congress in Brighton. The findings were commissioned from Tussell, a data provider on UK public sector contracts.

Amazon received £11 million for web hosting services from HMRC last year, despite paying just £1.7 million on profits of £72 million declared through its Amazon UK Services subsidiary in 2017.  A UK-based cloud hosting SME went bust after HMRC decided to switch to Amazon in 2017.

Amazon also received £4 million from the Department for Work and Pensions, at least in part for hosting elements of the Universal Credit system, the new figures show.

Two senior civil servants, who were reportedly amongst the architects of the government’s ‘cloud first’ procurement policy that directly benefited Amazon, were recently ‘poached’ to work for the company, raising questions over potential conflicts of interest.

GMB has raised serious concerns over health and safety standards at Amazon’s network of warehouses.

A Freedom of Information request showed that 115 ambulances were called out to an Amazon warehouse at Rugeley in Staffordshire over a three year period. Just 8 call-outs were made to a nearby Tesco distribution warehouse of the same size.

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “Amazon are taking us for mugs. They must quite literally laughing all the way to the bank – they’re making profit from a government that they refuse to pay their fair share of taxes to.

“They refuse dignity and rights for their workers, don’t pay their taxes and the government give them contracts anyway – it’s beyond a joke.”

Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said: “It is shocking that the government has spent millions with a company that makes massive profits while mistreating its workers and paying barely any tax.

“Labour in government will insist that that when taxpayer funded public services and goods are delivered by private companies, they operate to the highest standards, with a public service ethos and not simply in the interests of shareholders.

“We will clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion, and implement our Tax Transparency and Enforcement Programme to build an economy that works for the many, not the few.

Shadow Pensions Minister Jack Dromey said: “In November, I met with Amazon and asked them searching questions on their health and safety practices. The answers I received were insufficient.

“I followed up with a letter asking them to agree to a joint health and safety audit with the GMB. They didn’t reply.

“If Amazon’s working practices are as safe as they claim, why will they not agree to undertake a joint health and safety audit with the union? It is the HSE’s public duty to investigate Amazon and protect the health and safety of its workers.”

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