Jonas Roosens

Amazon opens first hub in Belgium, trades unions to keep an eye on working conditions

The American e-commerce giant Amazon has opened a first "Amazon Fulfillment Centre" in Belgium. The Flemish PM Jan Jambon (nationalist) was present at the opening ceremony in Antwerp. While the distribution hub should yield 260 new jobs, questions about working conditions remain. 

The hub will cooperate with distribution centres in Germany and France and will dispatch parcels across Antwerp province. Some 60 people will be employed in the distribution hub itself, while another 200 self-employed drivers will deliver the parcels at people's homes. The aim is to use as many electricity-driven vehicles as possible to limit green house gas emissions. 

Trades unions remain concerned about working conditions and work pressure at Amazon but Eva Faict, country manager of Amazon.com, dismisses these concerns: "We offer competitive wages to drivers with whom we cooperate. We also make sure that they work directly for us." 

Still, Tom Peeters of the socialist trades union ABVV says "we heard that Amazon keeps a very close eye on delivery times of parcels in other countries". He says there is a strict time rule per parcel that involves seconds, and a limited time for a toilet break. "In Germany people have to work on a surface of 1 square metre." Peeters says "we will see how this goes in Belgium and we will not hesitate to engage in talks with the management if necessary."

VIDEO - Amazon opens a first hub in Belgium, Flemish PM Jan Jambon has the honour to cut the ribbon

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