Protests will take place across North Tyneside today, in a campaign against technology goliaths Amazon.

Unite - Britain's largest working union - has submitted a formal complaint to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) against the company run by Jeff Bezos, for abuse of its market position with regards to alleged 'price gouging' at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vulnerable people such as the elderly and disabled are alleged to have been particularly exposed to inflated prices on 'essential' items, and now Unite is demanding Amazon repay the overcharges.

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Protesters will gather at the Spanish City, Whitley Ba y at 10.30am, before marching to Tynemouth Pier Lighthouse half an hour later. The rally's final destination will be at the Tynemouth Centre at 11.30am.

According to Unite, Carex antibacterial hand lotion which usually costs around £1 was ramped up to £26.41 in March 2020.

The price of a Braun Thermoscan 7 digital thermometer also shot up over £100 – going from £39.99 to £149.99.

Campaigners are also calling for better working conditions across Amazon's warehouses, where cases of anti-trade union tactics have been reported to Unite.

The trade union has called upon Amazon to sign a declaration of neutrality, which includes worker's rights, allowing them to unionise.

The declaration of neutrality also includes clauses such as unions being able to raise concerns with the company, allowing workers reasonable access to common areas, and to prevent Amazon discriminating against those who choose to unionise.

Unite General Secretary, Sharon Graham said: “Amazon is steeped in corporate irresponsibility, from its anti-union tactics to tax avoidance.

"Now Amazon stands accused of profiting from price gouging on its website at the height of the pandemic when vulnerable people were most at need.

"It's time for Amazon to be held to account."

Sharon Graham of Unite
Sharon Graham of Unite

Amazon - who are said to have a net worth of over £200bn - saw its UK turnover increase by 51% in 2020, as many more people became dependent on it due to lockdown restrictions and shop closures in place.

According to the Guardian, a spokesperson for Amazon said: “There is no place for price gouging on Amazon.

“We worked with the CMA more than a year ago to stop attempts by some sellers to take advantage of the global health crisis. Our action at the time was clear and decisive – we removed the offers referenced in this complaint and terminated seller accounts.

“We continue to monitor our store 24/7 to remove offers that violate our policies.”

According to a poll provided by Unite, more than three quarters of respondents believe that workers should be allowed to join a trade union.

Similar figures (73% respectively) find that Amazon should be legally required to recognise and engage with trade unions that represent their workers - and that Amazon should be obliged to allow union representatives reasonable access to meet with workers they represent.

The CMA have announced publicly that they have received a formal complaint from Unite, and that they are "considering it carefully".

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