The GMB said “Why a business would allow a competitor like Amazon floor space is hard to understand as the Co-operative has a real cuckoo in the ethical nest”.
The GMB’s real complaint is with pay and working conditions for Amazon workers. According to the GMB, the vast majority of the 22,000 staff are paid £6.39 per hour with the permanent staff starting on £7 per hour. They say that they have alerted the Co-operative Group as to the employment record of Amazon and have challenged the reasons given by the Co-operative Group for the partnership with Amazon.
Nick Folland, Chief External Affairs Officer at the Co-operative replied “Here at the Co-operative Group we strongly consider balancing our ethical values when making decisions relating to our businesses’ operations“. He added that the Co-op are “meeting the needs of changing shopping habits, making our service offerings more relevant to a younger generation, giving consumers a reason to come to the high-street in their local community (where many of our stores are located) and reducing environmental impacts as the miles to deliver and collect these products are reduced“.
Of course one issue is what is the true benefit to the Co-op, as well as increased foot fall, if any payment from Amazon to the Co-Op is tasty enough then surely it would be remiss of the Co-op not to benefit their members with the additional income.
It’s worth noting that the Co-op have had a troubled relationship with the GMB in recent times. In 2007, after over 100 years, the Co-op de-recognised the GMB saying that they “need to work with unions which operate across the Group’s range of businesses“. Calling on the Co-op to remove Amazon lockers may run deeper than simply applying pressure to Amazon for a living wage. It could also be a way to raise the GMB profile with Co-op members and remind Co-op management that they’re still a force to be recognised.