Amazon's reputation for the way its treats its staff is not very good. There are multiple reports and books about how terrible it is, especially in the
warehouses fulfilment centres that deal with all your packages. But there's some good news, because the company has announced it's raising the minimum wage for its UK employees to £9.50 a hour - or £10.50 an hour if they're based in London.
While the use of the word employees is worrisome, particularly given all the issues with gig economy workers being officially designated as self-employed contractors and denied 'employee' status and rights in the process. But according to Amazon this change affects everyone, whether they're full time, part time, temporary, or seasonal staff. This includes staff members hired by external agencies, and those working for Amazon subsidiaries like Whole Foods. It also made a point of saying that the new wages are not dependant on meeting targets.
According to Amazon this change will affect a total of 37,000 staff members, 17,000 of which are full time and 20,000 are seasonal workers hired for the Christmas rush. The retail giant has also been keen to emphasise that there are also other benefits to be had, including private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection, paid breaks, a company pension, and a programme that funds adult education.
The only thing that isn't clear is if these wage increases also affect Amazon's delivery drivers, many of which are classified as gig economy workers.
I've emailed Amazon to ask, though, and will update if I hear back. [Update:] Amazon got back to me to confirm that the new pay rise does not affect delivery drivers, and seemingly all other Amazon workers who are officially 'self-employed':
The announcement does not relate to delivery drivers. For your background delivery drivers do not work directly for Amazon and are not therefore ‘Amazon drivers’. They are self-employed contractors who either work with independent delivery companies or in Amazon Flex to deliver Amazon parcels.
While there's no indication on whether the reported conditions inside Amazon fulfilment centres are going to improve as a result, the fact that Amazon staff will be getting a pay rise is a good thing. Let's just hope there isn't anything nefarious going on in the background that will put a damper on this news. But for now, good news for Amazon workers, especially since the pay rises will come into play on 1st November - which means they should have a little extra money before Christmas. It should also take the edge off the chaos on Black Friday too.