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Amazon consults staff on plans to close three fulfilment centres, affecting 1,200 people

A worker in an Amazon warehouse. Image courtesy of Amazon

Amazon is consulting its staff on plans to close three fulfilment centres this year, affecting 1,200 members of staff. 

The retailer and technology giant says it will also create 2,500 new jobs at two new fulfilment centres over the next three years – and will offer staff at sites that close the opportunity to transfer elsewhere. Amazon is consulting on closing three fulfilment centres, at Hemel Hempstead, Doncaster and Gourock. New fulfilment centres are expected to open at Peddimore, in the West Midlands and Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham in coming years.

An Amazon spokesperson says: “We’re always evaluating our network to make sure it fits our business needs and to improve the experience for our employees and customers. As part of that effort, we may close older sites, enhance existing facilities, or open new sites, and we’ve launched a consultation on the proposed closure of three fulfilment centres in 2023. We also plan to open two new fulfilment centres creating 2,500 new jobs over the next three years.

“All employees affected by site closure consultations will be offered the opportunity to transfer to other facilities, and we remain committed to our customers, employees, and communities across the UK.”

At Hemel Hempstead, 500 members of staff will be offered roles at locations including Dunstable. In Doncaster, about 400 people working at its Balby Carr Bank site will be transferred to two other fulfilment centres at the town’s iPort. In Gourock, Scotland, around 300 people will be offered the opportunity to move to another site or to take up opportunities to retrain or reskill. 

However the GMB trade union, which has members at Amazon warehouses but has not officially been recognised by Amazon, says it will not be easy for staff to move location. 

Steve Garelick, GMB organiser, says: “This is a real kick in the teeth for Amazon staff who worked themselves into the ground during the festive rush. Hard-up Amazon workers can’t suddenly be expected to up sticks and move to a different fulfilment centre which may be many miles away. local workers who may not be in a position to take roles so far away from where they live.

“Amazon has failed to bring a stable employment model due to their long-standing health and safety issues and poor workplace practices. To move forward with stability, Amazon needs to engage with the workforce through their union GMB.”

Wider job cuts

Any job losses that come about as a result of the warehouse closures are understood to be separate to an expected 18,000 job cuts that were set out by Amazon chief executive Andy Jassy last week, and are expected to primarily affect Amazon’s shops and its people, experience and technology (PXT) division. At the time, Jassy said that “companies that last a long time go through different phases” and were not in “heavy people expansion mode every year”.

The retailer has been in expansion mode in the UK for several years, as it looked to meet strong online demand during the pandemic and in anticipation of economic expansion as lockdowns came to an end. In the UK, Amazon hired around 10,000 staff in both 2020 and 2021. By September 2021, when it held a careers day aimed at hiring 2,500 people in the UK, it employed 55,000 in the market.

Amazon is rated Elite in RXUK Top500 research.

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