Amazon to create 7,000 UK jobs as virus shutdown fuels online demand

Amazon’s UK workforce will grow to more than 40,000 after a surge in online shopping. (AFP)
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Updated 03 September 2020

Amazon to create 7,000 UK jobs as virus shutdown fuels online demand

LONDON: Amazon will create 7,000 permanent jobs in the UK by the end of the year, the US e-commerce giant announced Thursday in a boost to Britain’s virus-hit economy.

“The company will add a further 7,000 new permanent roles by the end of 2020 across more than 50 sites, including corporate offices and two new fulfilment centers,” Amazon said in a statement.

Its total permanent UK workforce will number more than 40,000, up by a third in just one year as the pandemic triggers a surge in online shopping.

While several British retailers have together axed thousands of jobs following the country’s virus lockdown, others including supermarket giant Tesco are creating vast amounts of roles to cope with booming online demand.

Stefano Perego, Amazon’s vice president of European customer fulfilment, said his company is “employing thousands of talented individuals in a diverse range of good jobs from operations managers and tech professionals through to people to handle customer orders” across the UK.

“Our people have played a critical role in serving customers in these unprecedented times and the new roles will help us continue to meet customer demand and support small and medium sized businesses selling on Amazon,” he added.

The company, which has already created 3,000 new permanent UK roles this year, added on Thursday that it will offer more than 20,000 seasonal positions across the country ahead of the festive period.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma hailed the jobs announcement, with UK unemployment set to surge after the government ends next month its COVID-19 furlough scheme that is paying wages for millions of private-sector workers.

“While this has been a challenging time for many businesses, it is hugely encouraging to see Amazon creating 10,000 jobs in the UK this year,” Sharma said.

“This is not only great news for those looking for a new job, but also a clear vote of confidence in the UK economy as we build back better from the pandemic,” he added.

Britain’s economy shrank by one fifth in the second quarter, more than any European neighbor, as the lockdown plunged the country into its deepest recession on record.

There is meanwhile much uncertainty surrounding the strength and pace of recovery.

Amazon’s announcement comes after it last month unveiled plans to hire 3,500 employees for its technology hubs and corporate offices across the US.


Taps and reservoirs run dry as Moroccan drought hits farmers

Updated 22 October 2020

Taps and reservoirs run dry as Moroccan drought hits farmers

  • The problems caused by increasingly erratic rainfall and the depletion of groundwater are growing every year in Morocco

RABAT: Two years of drought have drained reservoirs in southern Morocco, threatening crops the region relies on and leading to nightly cuts in tap water for an area that is home to a million people.

In a country that relies on farming for two jobs in five and 14 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), the problems caused by increasingly erratic rainfall and the depletion of groundwater are growing every year.

In the rich citrus plantations of El-Guerdan, stretching eastward from the southern city of Agadir, more than half of farmers rely on two dams in the mountains of Aoulouz, 126 km away, to irrigate their trees.

However, that water has been diverted to the tourist hub of Agadir, where mains water has been cut to residential areas every night since Oct. 3 to ensure taps in households did not run entirely dry.

“The priority should go to drinking water,” Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch said in parliament last week.

In El-Guerdan, Youssef Jebha’s crop of clementine oranges has been compromised by reduced water supply, he said, which affects both the quality of fruit and the size of the harvest.

“The available ground water is barely enough to keep the trees alive,” said Jebha, who is head of a regional farmers’ association.

“Saving Agadir should not be at the expense of El-Guerdan farmers,” he added, speaking by phone.

‘We hope for rain’

El-Guerdan is not alone in facing drought. Morocco’s harvest of cereals this year was less than half that of 2019, meaning hundreds of millions of dollars of extra import costs.

Despite lower production, Moroccan exports of fresh produce have risen this year by 8 percent. 

Critics of the government’s agricultural policy say such sales are tantamount to exporting water itself, given the crops use up so many resources.

A report by Morocco’s social and environmental council, an official advisory body, warned that four-fifths of the country’s water resources could vanish over the next 25 years.

It also warned of the risks to social peace due to water scarcity. In 2017, 23 people were arrested after protests over water shortages in the southeastern city of Zagora.

In January the government said it would spend $12 billion on boosting water supply over the next seven years by building new dams and desalination plants.

One $480 million plant, with a daily capacity of 400,000 cubic meters, is expected to start pumping in March, with the water divided between residential areas and farms.

Until then, “We hope for rain,” the agriculture minister said in parliament.

In El-Guerdan, the farmers are digging for water. A new well costs $20,000-30,000. However, “there is no guarantee water can be found due to the depletion of ground reserves,” said Ahmed Bounaama, another farmer.