Firms who avoid tax and fail to pay staff a decent wage should not be rewarded with Government grants, says Willie Rennie.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader called for the same rules of engagement to apply to both the “David and Goliaths of the business world” ahead of the launch of his party’s manifesto on Friday.
He was outside Amazon’s depot in Dunfermline demanding an end to multi-million pound grants for companies who do not pay the Living Wage of £8.25 to staff and hand over paltry amounts of tax.
Mr Rennie said £5 million of public funding was paid to Amazon through Scottish Enterprise. In 2014, it paid £11 million in tax despite racking up £5.3bn of sales.
“Tax avoidance rules and paying workers fairly should apply to both the Davids and the Goliaths of the business world,” he said.
“But at the moment corporations like Amazon are being rewarded for failing to pay their workers properly and for only paying measly levels of tax.”
Calling on other parties to following suit, the former North East Fife candidate added: “Scottish Liberal Democrats will not pay government grants to companies if they do not pay the Living Wage or their taxes.”
Amazon does not dispute Mr Rennie’s figures, but says it pays the right amount of tax for its profit levels.
Last year Amazon UK changed the place it registers its online purchases from Luxembourg to Britain.
The firm points out that corporation tax is only paid on profits, which have been relatively small in part because of its research and development programmes.
Staff at its “fulfilment centre” in Fife start on £7.25 an hour, the online retailer says, but that goes up to £8 on top of a “comprehensive” package of benefits including subsidised meals, discounts and private medical insurance.