E-commerce giant Amazon (AMZN) said this week that it will open a new hi-tech distribution warehouse in Darlington, in a move that is expected to support more than 1,000 jobs in the area.
The county Durham fulfilment centre, where staff will pick, pack and ship customer orders, will be Amazon’s first in the north-east of England.
The company said it had already begun recruiting for roles at the warehouse, and that it was seeking engineers, HR and IT professionals, as well as finance specialists and operations managers.
The Darlington site will be fitted out with Amazon’s “advanced” robotics technology, which move products from shelf to shelf in the warehouses.
The company noted that it has already created 29,500 jobs in the UK since 2010. But critics have pointed to what they call “exploitative” working conditions in Amazon warehouses.
The GMB union said last year that ambulances had been called out to the giant’s UK warehouses 600 times over a three-year period.
Amazon said at the time that it was “simply not correct” to suggest that it had unsafe working conditions based on the figure or other anecdotes, and said on Thursday that all its warehouse employees in the UK receive “competitive pay and comprehensive benefits”.
Pay starts at £9.50 an hour for all permanent, temporary, and seasonal employees working in the company’s fulfilment centres, it said.
“We are delighted to expand our operations in the North East with this new team playing a crucial role in delivering a first rate level of service for our customers”, said Amazon’s vice-president of UK customer fulfilment.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen welcomed the move, saying his priority was to attract business and investment to the area that creates good-quality, well-paid jobs.
“They don’t come much bigger than Amazon”, he said.