Amazon UK Warehouse Staff To Walk Out Next Month

Staff at Amazon warehouse in Coventry are to walk out next month after receiving a pay rise from the e-commerce giant.

The GMB trade union was quoted by Reuters as saying on Tuesday that more than 1,000 workers at its Coventry warehouse will strike for four days next month, including on the typically busy Black Friday shopping day.

It comes after Amazon on Monday had announced that minimum starting pay for frontline Operations employees would rise to between £11.80 and £12.50 per hour, depending on location.

Image credit: Amazon

Amazon pay rise

This increase in starting pay for all full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal roles, will be effective from 15 October.

Amazon also added that in April 2024, minimum starting pay will increase further to between £12.30 and £13 per hour, depending on location – an increase of at least £1 per hour for frontline UK Operations employees.

Amazon said the pay increases represent a £170m investment in pay and mean Amazon’s minimum starting pay will have risen by 20 percent in two years, and 50 percent since 2018.

“We have some of the most talented colleagues around, and we’re proud to offer them competitive wages and benefits, as well as fantastic opportunities for career development, all in a safe and modern work environment,” said John Boumphrey, Amazon UK Country Manager.

“We prepare year-round for the festive season, so we’re also excited to have more than 15,000 seasonal positions available this year to help delight our customers,” Boumphrey added.

Amazon confirmed that more than 15,000 additional seasonal workers to be hired at Amazon UK sites, will also benefit from the pay rises.

Trade union response

However the GMB trade union dismissed the pay rise, saying it would bring “little comfort” to striking staff.

“This news will bring little comfort to the thousands of Amazon workers facing poverty pay, unsafe working conditions and workplace surveillance.,” said Rachel Fagan, GMB Organiser. “Amazon has spent millions fighting their own workers over union rights and fair pay.”

“GMB members have forced a pay rise from one of the world’s most powerful corporations – but Amazon can and must do better,” said Fagan.

GMB then reportedly said Amazon workers would walk out of the site in Coventry from 7 to 9 November, as well as on 24 November (Black Friday).

This is the latest move in a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions, which has resulted in multiple walk-outs so far this year.

In January, workers at Amazon’s Coventry fullfilment centres co-ordinated the first-ever legally-mandated walkout at the company in the UK.

Unionised UK staff are asking for £15 per hour.

Walkouts and strikes have taken place in other European countries before, such as in Germany.

Unionisation move

In co-ordination with GMB Union, some Amazon UK staff also submitted a bid to become a legally recognised union, which would have marked a first for the company in the UK, CNBC reported.

Earlier this year, however, the Amazon workers pushing for union recognition were dealt a blow in their bid to unionise when an independent arbitration committee sided with Amazon in determining that the workers lacked the required support to achieve union status, CNBC reported.

Meanwhile, across the pond, in early 2022 a group workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York became the first warehouse in Amazon’s 28-year history to successfully vote to unionise.

However that move failed to galvanise a wave of unionisation in the US as many had hoped.

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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