WORKERS are quitting, going on the sick and "breaking down" at Amazon Durham after being "forced" into ten-hour night shifts to cope with demand, it has been claimed.

Dozens of staff working at the enormous warehouse at Integra 61 in Bowburn have been moved from permanent day shift to night shift "without permission" and "very little notice."

The retailer has been accused of ignoring personal circumstances, including care for vulnerable family members, young children and workers with medical problems.

Read more: First look inside Amazon's newest warehouse at Bowburn in Durham

Amazon has since responded saying that shift patterns can "change from time to time" and it will "always" work with staff to understand their circumstances.

The Northern Echo: Amazon Durham Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTAmazon Durham Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

But The Northern Echo has heard that seven people resigned on Wednesday (March 9) after the company placed around 37 workers onto the nightshift rota.

One worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said the changes which are due to come in on Sunday (March 13) had left them with no other option but to hand in their notice.

Read more: Amazon Darlington accused of 'back tracking' on staff employment

They said: "My first thoughts were 'I can't do it,' I have two children and a partner that works away.

"If my children are in the house alone and it burns down, I'd be liable for neglect and would probably end up in prison."

It is understood senior managers at the site identified the workers at random after failing to find enough volunteers to cover its night operation.

Emails were then sent to those workers chosen which stated that a meeting would take place to identify personal and mitigating circumstances, around three weeks ago.

But despite raising concerns, many last week received an email from site bosses confirming their new nightshift start date.

The worker said: "At this meeting, we were basically told to change to night shift or leave.

"I've done everything they have asked of me, when I told them my circumstances none of that mattered - we’re just a number and they don’t give a s**t."

The Northern Echo: Amazon Durham Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTAmazon Durham Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

A typical day shift runs between 7.30am and 6pm, but those on the night shift could be required to work unsocial hours with shifts starting at 6.30pm and finishing at 5am.

According to workers, their contracts contain a clause which states they can be swapped from day shift to night shift or relocated to other sites, if the company requires.

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But another worker slammed the move, saying that bosses had become desperate after advertising for nightshift roles since Christmas.

They said: "Amazon wants to do everything for the customer and to make sure they meet customer demand.

The Northern Echo: Amazon Durham Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTAmazon Durham Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

"But when people are part of a day shift, they wouldn't expect to be forced into a nightshift.

"99 percent of businesses might say you work from Tuesday to Friday and then ask you to switch to Wednesday to Saturday, but not move from day shift to night shift."

The worker added that Amazon had not acknowledged the individual circumstances and concerns raised, pushing ahead with the changes.

It comes as Amazon was accused of "back-tracking" on their promises after around 30 workers at the site in Darlington were let go.

Last week, workers said the retailer had changed its mind after offering extended contracts to a number of temporary staff.

The firm responded, insisting that no one had been sacked, rather they had come to the end of their temporary fixed-term contracts.

In response to the latest claims, an Amazon spokesperson said: “We offer a wide range of roles to employees including permanent, part-time, and fixed-term contracts.

"Shift patterns can change from time to time and we always work with employees individually to understand their personal circumstances and look to offer a shift option that best supports them.”


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