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Amazon plan to shut Scottish fulfilment centre is devastating, say MSPs

Online giant Amazon has announced plans to shut a key site in Scotland – placing hundreds of jobs at risk.

The company launched a consultation over the closure of its fulfilment centre in Gourock, near Greenock, Inverclyde.

The move, which also affects centres in Hemel Hempstead and Doncaster in England, will impact about 1,200 jobs, including about 300 workers based in Gourock.

Amazon has already said that all workers at the affected locations will be offered roles elsewhere in the company.

But Labour West of Scotland MSP Katy Clark said: “It is appalling that after 19 years in the area, Amazon has announced it intends to up sticks.”

She added: “This is devastating for the local community and the 300 workers who may find themselves out of a job.

“These workers have been heroic supporting households and providing vital supplies throughout the pandemic and holiday periods.

“The Scottish Government needs to intervene as a matter of urgency to support these workers back into employment.”

Labour’s Neil Bibby described the announcement as ‘devastating’ (Danny Lawson/PA)
Labour’s Neil Bibby described the announcement as ‘devastating’ (Danny Lawson/PA)

Ms Clark also argued called for “full transparency” over how much the online retailer had been given by the Scottish Government.

She said: “Amazon has benefitted from significant public funds over several years from the Scottish Government.

“Now, the company, which has benefited from public money to the tune of millions, is upping and leaving a community which has served them well.

“We need full transparency on how much Amazon has been given, for what purpose and what conditions were attached to these funds.”

Amazon job losses
Amazon is aiming to close three fulfilment centres with the potential loss of 1,200 jobs (Nicholas T Ansell/PA)

Fellow Labour MSP, Neil Bibby, described the planned closure of the Gourock site as “devastating”.

Mr Bibby, who also represents the West of Scotland region, added: “For 19 years, Amazon has been a major source of jobs in a part of Scotland with high unemployment and for 300 people to find out they are out of a work so soon after Christmas is a hammer blow.

“The Scottish Government should leave no stone unturned in trying to minimise the impact of these job losses and help people back into employment.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It is very disappointing to learn of the announcement made today by Amazon to consult on closing its distribution centre in Gourock.

“This will be a difficult time for staff, their families and the local areas affected.”

The enterprise agency, Scottish Enterprise, is in an “active discussion with the company to better understand the issues” around its decision, the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson said: “The people affected by this development are the immediate priority and the Scottish Government will do everything in its power to help those affected through our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (Pace).

“Our Pace team has already contacted the company to offer Pace support in the unfortunate event it should be necessary.”

An Amazon spokesman said the company was “always evaluating our network to make sure it fits our business needs and to improve the experience for our employees and customers.”

He added: “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.”

But Steve Garelick, GMB union organiser, branded the announcement a “a real kick in the teeth for Amazon staff who worked themselves into the ground during the festive rush”.

He said: “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 may not be in a position to take roles so far away from where they live.”