MINISTERS are to meet Amazon bosses to discuss concerns over pay and working conditions at the online retail giant, as it emerged that the firm is set to create hundreds of new jobs in Scotland this year.

The Scottish Government will attempt to persuade the company to pay the living wage to workers, after Nicola Sturgeon was challenged over claims that its warehouses are an "exceptionally horrible place" to work despite it being backed millions in public grants.

The company, which pays as little as £7.20 hour, has been hit by claims that low wages at centres such as its giant Dunfermline plant lead to in-work poverty and underpin a business model that undercuts high street retailers.

HeraldScotland: The Amazon warehouse in Dunfermline, Fife

The Living Wage is £8.25p outside London and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie recently claimed that Fife would be better off without its Amazon centre, despite it employing hundreds of workers.

Amazon said that it was creating 2,500 jobs across the UK and confirmed that the workforce would be boosted at its research and customer service centres in Edinburgh as well as the controversial Dunfermline facility, its largest in Britain.

The firm, founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos, also has a huge 'fulfilment centre' in Gourock.

A Government spokeswoman welcomed the move to create "more permanent jobs in Scotland" but said that fair work practices would be discussed alongside talks over the new roles in Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on Thursday that she would tell Roseanna Cunningham to seek a summit with Amazon, with confirmation arriving yesterday that it had been agreed.

The spokeswoman added: "The Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Roseanna Cunningham, will meet with representatives of Amazon shortly where these plans will be discussed. Ms Cunningham will also be discussing the benefits to employers of paying the Living Wage.

"It is important all employees in all workplaces are treated fairly and the Scottish Government is doing everything we can to drive up employment standards and promote good working practices with the powers available to us."

Amazon’s surging UK business paid just £11.9m of tax in 2014, while its Luxembourg unit took £5.3bn of sales from UK shoppers.

Since 2005, Amazon has received more than £5m in Scottish Enterprise grants although workers have also complained of being fined for returning seconds late from lunch breaks and being forced to perform "compulsory overtime" in the run up to Christmas. Alongside employment practices, concerns have also been raised about its record in paying tax.

A call to link grants with the Scottish Business Pledge - which sees firms promise to pay the living wage alongside a series of other fair work promises - was recently backed by a Holyrood committee.

The company declined to respond directly to the recent criticism, instead pointing to a section of its website in which it claimed its warehouse workers are "dedicated and enthusiastic" and see pay rates rise to over £8-an-hour after two years.

Reacting to the jobs announcement, which Amazon said would bring its UK-wide workforce to 14,000, Mr Rennie said the positions must be come with decent conditions and pay.

He added: "The creation of new jobs is always a welcome development but we need to be sure these are good jobs that are well-paid and offer suitable working conditions for staff.

HeraldScotland: Roseanna Cunningham

"The First Minister promised that she and the Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work would be standing up for Amazon staff, many of whom have contacted me to describe the horrific working conditions they have had to endure at the Dunfermline base."

Carla McCormack, Policy and Parliamentary Officer at the Poverty Alliance which has seen its Scottish Living Wage campaign endorsed by the First Minister, said she hoped new roles would offer "a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.".

She added: "Work should be a way of lifting people out of poverty, and the paying the Living Wage is part of this. We would be happy to meet with Amazon to discuss the benefits of becoming an accredited Living Wage Employer.

"There are over 450 accredited Living Wage employers in Scotland, and they have reported benefits including increased staff retention and increased productivity. It is clear that paying the Living Wage is good for business, good for the individual and good for society."