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TIMCON challenges union’s Amazon call 

28 August 2014

The Timber Packaging & Pallet Confederation (TIMCON) has challenged a claim by the union GMB that Amazon should investigate an ‘insect invasion’ in its packaging.

GMB called on Amazon to conduct a risk assessment of the dangers to the health and safety of staff and potential damage to the UK economy of insect invasion in wood and other packaging of goods imported from abroad.

The call followed a GMB member falling ill at an Amazon depot. The employee believes the illness was linked to insects carried in packaging.

However, Stuart Hex, general secretary of TIMCON was scathing of the claim.

"The statement by GMB regarding Amazon packaging and workers’ health is irresponsible, highly misleading and potentially damaging to a very important UK industry on which a significant number of workers rely for their livelihoods.

"It is based solely on comments made by one worker at Amazon - and which apparently remain unproven.

"This statement then cites a case of emerald ash borer in North America. This is an issue of great concern for the protection of forests; it is not, as they imply, only a worker health and safety issue. There are in place significant international phytosanitary regulations to minimise the risk of pest infestation in packaging and these regulations are rigidly enforced in the UK by the Forestry Commission.

"On the subject of the protection of forests, the timber packaging and pallet industry is working closely and continually with plant health authorities across the world to protect the sustainable forests from where we source our raw material. GMB is clearly unaware of this work.

"These comments have the potential to cause serious damage to a UK industry that employs 8,000 direct and 30,000 indirect UK jobs. We are extremely disappointed that GMB has chosen to issue them without consultation with the appropriate trade association.”