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When Amazon came to town: Swindon feels strain as new depot sucks up jobs

05 Dec 2021 By theguardian

When Amazon came to town: Swindon feels strain as new depot sucks up jobs

Official figures show a record 1.2m job vacancies across Britain, with shortages of lorry drivers in particular attracting national attention amid panic-buying of petrol and gaps on supermarket shelves this autumn.

In Swindon, a town with a total workforce of about 110,000 where unemployment is below the UK average at 3.9%, the arrival of a big new employer hiring thousands of staff has a noticeable impact.

In the ripple effect of Amazon coming to town, Domingos Dias has seen more than 100 of his colleagues leave the Marks & Spencer warehouse (run on an outsourced basis by DHL) where he works. The departures have left resources stretched.

Pay is rising fast in warehousing work, according to figures from the jobs website Indeed, with the median hourly wage up 11% this year from ?9.25 to ?10.27. Pay in other sectors is rising more slowly, and failing to keep pace with soaring living costs.

A modern-day equivalent of a Victorian factory, only on a dual carriageway rather than the railway that put Swindon on the map two centuries ago, the new warehouse covers an area the size of nearly seven football pitches.

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