AN Amazon sub-contractor has been accused of using "unskilled workers" and not trained and qualified staff to finish off construction of a North-East warehouse.

SSE Enterprise Contracting, who are working on Amazon's third site in Gateshead, has been criticised for "undermining" highly skilled work and the trade.

In a protest outside the site at Follingsby Max on Wednesday, campaigners called for the sub-contractor to stop using labourers as a replacement to those qualified.

SSE Enterprise Contracting has since responded saying all of its workers, both agency and direct, are suitably skilled, while Amazon has said the matter concerns SSE.

The Northern Echo: The new 'NCL1' site being built in Gateshead Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTThe new 'NCL1' site being built in Gateshead Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

On Wednesday morning, Rank & File campaigners urged SSE to take action as it said use of 'unskilled workers' undermined the trade, health and safety and the product.

They pitched up outside the new 'NCL1 Fulfilment Centre' which is expected to be operational in September later this year.

Jim Harte, Chair of Rank & File, told The Northern Echo: "In this case SSE Enterprise Contracting are using unskilled workers to carry out skilled electrical roles, undermining highly skilled work, the quality of the product and the health and Safety of the workers and customers.

"Rank and File M&E workers will not tolerate this kind of behaviour on our sites and we will target any company who does not abide by, or tries to undermine our collective agreements.

"There is no such thing as an Electrical Mate within our national agreements and we urge SSE Enterprise Contracting to stop using labourers to terminate cables and employ highly trained and qualified electricians."

SSE Enterprise Contracting, which was drafted onto the site to finish the electrical work, hit back at any suggestion its workers assigned to the site could not deliver the project.

A company spokesman said: “All SSE Contracting operatives, both direct and agency, are suitably skilled and deployed in accordance with and or above industry standards for the works we undertake.

The Northern Echo: The future Amazon site under construction Picture: JIM SCOTTThe future Amazon site under construction Picture: JIM SCOTT

“The business has many years’ experience in delivering critical electrical works on large scale infrastructure projects across the UK. It also operates to the highest ethical standards and is committed to providing long-term skilled careers. As such, all our operatives, on this site and elsewhere, are suitably trained and undertake works according to industry standards.”

Amazon said Wednesday's campaign was a matter that concerned SSE contractors, rather than staff employed by the online retailer.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “This matter concerns SSE contractors working at the Gateshead site and had no operational impact on the construction works currently taking place.”