Amazon Staff In Essex Halt Work Over 3 Percent Pay Rise

Amazon is contending with workers halting work in Essex, UK, in response to a 3 percent (35 pence) pay rise.

The Guardian reported the GMB union as saying that 700 of the roughly 3,500 workers at the Amazon warehouse in Tilbury in Essex, one of the largest facilities in Europe, gathered in the facility’s canteen for a meeting to register a protest against the pay deal.

It comes after the Bank of England raised interest rates from 1.25 percent to 1.75 percent, the biggest rise since 1995, and forecast inflation to rise to 13.3 percent in October. The UK is far from alone in suffering from inflationary pressures. For example inflation in Turkey is currently near 80 percent.

Image credit: Amazon

Pay protest

The Guardian reported that Amazon staff at the Tilbury facility earn a minimum of £11.10 an hour, with those employed for at least three years on a minimum of £11.35.

The protesting staff are calling for a £2-an-hour raise.

One worker inside the warehouse in a TikTok video accused Amazon of treating them “like slaves”.

Steve Garelick, a regional organiser at GMB, alleged that some workers had faced disciplinary action and a withdrawal of pay over the stoppage that began on Wednesday night and continued into Thursday.

“Amazon have removed pay from hundreds of workers at Tilbury Essex as well as scouring social media to see who is uploading videos. Instead of disciplinary procedures because of reputation, Amazon should sort their reputation with staff. Pay a decent increase, not 35p,” he tweeted.

Amazon however denied there had been any disciplinary action.

Trade unions

It should be remembered that Amazon does not recognise trade unions in its UK warehouses, or indeed in most other countries around the world.

In October 2020 in Germany, the Verdi trade union called on Amazon workers in the country during the e-commerce giant’s Prime Day sales event.

Amazon has been clashing with German trade unions since 2013.

In the US in April this year, staff at the JFK8 facility, in the New York borough of Staten Island, voted to unionise, in what labour leaders called at the time, a “historic victory”.

That facility was the first warehouse in Amazon’s 28-year history to successfully vote to unionise.

But in May Amazon won the right to a hearing that could overturn that landmark union election.

Amazon Tilbury response

Amazon meanwhile is experiencing a number of challenges due to the economic downturn.

Last month it posted a second straight quarterly loss, amid rising costs of fuel, energy and transport.

And the firm provided a statement about the Tilbury pay protest to the Guardian.

“Starting pay for Amazon employees will be increasing to a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour, depending on location,” Amazon stated. “This is for all full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary roles in the UK.”

“In addition to this competitive pay, employees are offered a comprehensive benefits package that includes private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection, subsidised meals and an employee discount among others, which combined are worth thousands annually, as well as a company pension plan,” the firm added.

The Guardian reported that pay at Amazon has risen from a minimum of £9.50 in 2018 to a current starting rate of £10.50 – well above the £9.50 legal minimum for those aged 23 and over and higher than the £10.10 an hour on offer in many major supermarkets.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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