Senior Leeds city councillor pushes authority to pursue ethical policy after Amazon investigation

A senior member of Leeds City Council has accused the authority’s leadership of allowing online retail giant Amazon to operate in one of its buildings, despite supporting calls for improved workers’ rights.

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 4:45 am

A motion, known as a white paper, set to go before a full Leeds City Council meeting this week on behalf of the authority’s Labour group. It calls on the council to support the TUC’s great jobs agenda, and to encourage others to pay the real living wage of £9.90 an hour.

But the leader of the authority’s Liberal Democrats group Coun Stewart Golton has called for the motion to be altered to acknowledge the authority renting out one of its premises to Amazon “for several years”.

The Labour motion, set to be presented by council deputy leader Coun Jonathan Pryor states: “Council is proud that its Employment Agenda is in alignment with the Great Jobs Agenda however we are concerned that our inconsistent commitment is affecting our credibility in portraying the council as a key influencer in terms of good employment practice which includes our condemnation of the ‘fire and re-hire’ practices undertaken by some companies.”

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Leeds City Council has been criticised by Coun Golton for owning the Amazon warehouse back in 2016, following a BBC investigation that criticised working conditions at the company.

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The Logic Leeds site in Skelton, which includes numerous warehouses, was sold by Leeds City Council last year for £29.3m, at a profit of about £14m on the original purchase price. One of the warehouses was occupied by Amazon.

A Bureau of Investigative Journalism investigation in 2021 has uncovered evidence that agency workers used by Amazon had been left with zero-hours contracts and no guarantee of pay for 20 hours’ work a week – both of which are in breach of the company’s stated policies.

Leeds City Council was criticised by Coun Golton for owning the Amazon warehouse back in 2016, following a BBC investigation which criticised working conditions at the company.

Coun Golton’s proposed amendment is set to include: “This council further commits to publishing an ethical landlord policy to ensure that companies trading under our roof are also fulfilling the above commitments to the real living wage, the great jobs agenda, and the fair work charter.”

The motion will be discussed at a full Leeds City Council meeting on Wednesday, January 12.

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