Amazon defends stance on trade unions as new Dublin facility opens

Amazon opened its first package fulfillment center in Ireland this week and defended itself against union claims and criticisms of its treatment of workers.

The new warehouse in Baldonnell, Co. Dublin, will create 500 jobs and will allow the company to provide faster delivery times for customers across Ireland, Amazon said.

However, the opening of the facility comes as one of the largest companies in the world faces scrutiny in various countries for its approach to workers joining unions and a walk-out by 800 workers in a dispute over pay at an Amazon warehouse in England this week .

On the commencement of operations in Ireland, the Communications Workers Union (CWU) said Amazon must respect industrial relations mechanisms in Ireland and engage positively with workers who organize into a trade union.

“It is well known that Amazon does not have a positive history globally, in terms of good industrial relations and in its treatment of workers,” CWU General Secretary, Seán McDonagh, said. “It is of major concern that the company is anti- trade union.”

The CWU, the primary trade union representing workers in the logistics and delivery sectors, said the potential for an operator of Amazon’s scale to have a downward influence on pay and conditions in the industry is of particular concern.

“The CWU would like to talk to Amazon on a range of issues that will benefit their employees and contractors and ensure that the company respects the industrial relations machinery that we have in the state,” Mr McDonagh said.

Defending their work practices, Amazon told the Irish Examiner that employees have the choice of whether or not to join a union.

“As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees. Every day we empower people to find ways to improve their jobs, and when they do that we want to make those changes — quickly. That type of continuous improvement is harder to do quickly and nimbly with unions in the middle,” the company said in a statement.

“We already offer competitive pay, comprehensive benefits and opportunities for career growth, all while working in a modern, safe and engaging work environment.”

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