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GMB claims leaked Ashford Borough Council document confirms Amazon interest in Sevington warehouse

Rumours that an internet shopping giant could occupy a new warehouse in Ashford have been confirmed amid concerns over employee’s rights, according to a worker's union.

The GMB claim to have a leaked Ashford Borough Council (ABC) paper which would confirm in writing, for the first time publicly, Amazon's interest in the Sevington depot.

The release kicks of a campaign at the union to ensure decent jobs and good pay at the proposed Sevington Park retail development and others like it.

Martin Smith, GMB national organiser
Martin Smith, GMB national organiser

Martin Smith, a national organiser at GMB, said: “We want the Ashford public to understand that the high tech way Amazon process orders and tracks inventory disguises that it is also a traditional labour intensive mail order retail business.

"It relies on a road network funded by taxpayers for the business to business delivery of products to warehouses and for the business to customer delivery to private homes. It relies on large numbers of staff to receive the goods, to pick and pack them to meet customer orders.

"Where it differs from other retailers is its refusal to pay proper taxes or to treat its workers properly.

"This gives Amazon an unfair competitive advantage and is part of the reason why so many established high street names are going to the wall.

"It is time to strip away the high tech image and expose the exploitation involved in their business model."

Artist's impressions of the new Sevington development
Artist's impressions of the new Sevington development

We first reported speculation that the American multinational might be possible tenants for the proposed distribution centre to the north east of Highfield Lane in February last year.

But ABC and the firm have both remained tight-lipped over the suggestion.

The GMB say they will release a copy of the council paper, part of a financial report, early next week.

Land earmarked for Sevington Park
Land earmarked for Sevington Park

Amazon has operations in Croydon, Doncaster, Dunfermline, Edinburgh, Gourock, Hemel Hemstead, Milton Keynes, Peterborough, Rugeley, Swansea, Slough, Holborn in London, Dublin and Cork.

The company reported in February last year that it employs more than 5,000 permanent employees across the UK and a further 10,000 to 15,000 casual staff throughout the year.

Amazon plans to double the number of warehouses it operates in Britain in the next three years.

For the full story, see next week's Kentish Express, out Thursday.

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