Amazon to axe 18,000 jobs to slash costs in largest number of layoffs in company's history

Online retail titan Amazon is cutting more than 18,000 jobs worldwide. Credit: PA

Online retail titan Amazon is cutting more than 18,000 jobs worldwide in the largest layoffs programme in its history as part of plans to slash costs.

It is understood the job losses will include the UK and Europe, but the firm has not given details of how each country will be affected.

In a note to employees, chief executive Andy Jassy confirmed that the e-commerce giant's stores – including Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go – will be especially impacted by the cuts.

The group, which employs around 1.5 million people globally, had warned in November of job cuts without confirming a figure, but said it had found more roles would need to be axed as part of an in-depth review of its business.

It is understood the job losses will include the UK and Europe. Credit: PA

Amazon said roles that will be affected the most include those across its brick-and-mortar stores, as well as its human resources division.

Mr Jassy said in a note to employees, which was made public: “These changes will help us pursue our long-term opportunities with a stronger cost structure.”

He blamed the move on an “uncertain economy”, adding “we’ve hired rapidly over the last several years”.

Mr Jassy also said the announcement had been brought forward after one of its employees leaked the details.

“We decided it was better to share this news earlier so you can hear the details directly from me,” he said.

The group expects to tell staff directly impacted by the cuts from January 18 and said it is offering a separation payment, transitional health insurance benefits, and job placement support.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy. Credit: AP

Mr Jassy added: “Companies that last a long time go through different phases. They’re not in heavy people expansion mode every year.”

Another US tech company also announced a round of major job cuts on Thursday, with Salesforce axing around 8,000 workers worldwide, or 10% of its workforce.

It comes after Amazon workers announced they will walkout on strike for the first time later this month.

It was revealed by ITV News that staff at one of the company's vast warehouses in Coventry had voted to down tools in a dispute over pay.

The ballot, which was held among around 300 workers at the Coventry warehouse, saw a 63% turnout - well above the necessary threshold, with 98% voting to strike.

Although it is small, it is unprecedented for the tech giant in the UK.

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