Online retail giant Amazon has announced plans to shut three warehouses at Hemel Hempstead, Doncaster and Gourock, in the west of Scotland, putting 1,200 jobs at risk.
The company said it is planning to open two new centres creating 2,500 jobs over the next three years and that it will offer staff at the three sites that are closing the chance to move to other Amazon locations.
The move follows Amazon’s announcement last week that it is planning to cut more than 18,000 jobs globally, the largest number in the firm's history, in an attempt to reduce costs.
The firm said the new warehouses would be "state of the art" robotic facilities located in Peddimore, West Midlands, and Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham.
In a statement Amazon said: “We're always evaluating our network to make sure it fits our business needs and to improve the experience for our employees and customers.”
The cuts come after significant expansion by Amazon during the pandemic when online purchases soared during the lockdowns.
The company currently employs about 70,000 people in the UK, including 400 workers at the Doncaster centre, 500 at Hemel Hempstead and 300 at Gourock.
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The firm operates two other warehouses in Doncaster as well as one in Dunstable, about 20 minutes drive from Hemel Hempstead, which Amazon said may be able to absorb staff affected by the closures.
Steve Garelick, GMB union officer for Hemel Hempstead, called the moves a "real kick in the teeth for Amazon staff who worked themselves into the ground during the festive rush".
He added that workers may find it difficult to move to work at other sites. "Hard-up Amazon workers can't suddenly be expected to up sticks and move to a different fulfilment centre which may be many miles away," he said.
Katy Clark, Labour MSP for West of Scotland, called the decision to shut the Gourock warehouse after 19 years in the area "appalling" and warned that it was a “devastating” decision for the local community and the 300 workers.
She added: “These workers have been heroic supporting households and providing vital supplies throughout the pandemic and holiday periods.
"The Scottish Government needs to intervene as a matter of urgency to support these workers back into employment."
The cuts come after hundreds of workers at a warehouse in Coventry voted last month to stage what is believed to be the first strike action at the company in the UK. The walkout, part of a row over pay, is set to happen on 25 January.