Amazon workers will go on formal strike for the first time in the UK | Daily News Byte

Amazon workers will go on formal strike for the first time in the UK

 | Daily News Byte

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Amazon packages move on a conveyor belt to a fulfillment center in England.

Nathan Sterk | Getty Images

Hundreds Amazon Workers will go on strike, Britain’s GMB union said on Friday, marking the first for company employees in the UK

Workers at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse in central England voted to go on strike on Friday, with a walkout likely in January 2023. The Coventry facility employs approximately 1,000 people.

Workers are unhappy with a pay rise of 3%, or 50 pence an hour, that Amazon introduced in the summer, which they say does not match the rising cost of living. They want Amazon to pay at least £15 an hour.

Rising energy costs and supply chain disruptions have fueled inflation, with consumer prices currently at a 41-year high. The Bank of England raised interest rates on Thursday in an attempt to slow inflation.

Although Amazon workers in the UK had previously stopped work in August and on Black Friday in November to protest summer pay rises, these were spontaneous, unsanctioned labor withdrawals.

This will be the first legal compulsory strike in the UK

“Amazon workers in Coventry have made history – they will be the first in the UK to take part in a formal strike,” GMB senior organizer Amanda Gearing said in a statement on Friday.

GMB senior organizer Amanda Gearing said the Coventry workers “should be applauded for their courage and determination.”

“The fact that they are being forced to go on strike to get fair wages from one of the world’s most valuable companies should be a badge of shame for Amazon,” Gearing said in a statement.

“Amazon can afford to do better. It’s not too late to avoid strike action; get round the table with the GMB to improve workers’ pay and conditions.”

About 98% of the workers who turned out to vote chose to go on strike, over 63% of the polls.

In an emailed statement to CNBC, an Amazon spokesperson said: “We appreciate the great work our teams have done throughout the year and are proud to offer a competitive salary that starts at a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45 an hour, depending on location. .”

“This represents a 29 percent increase in the minimum hourly wage paid to Amazon employees since 2018. Employees are also offered extensive benefits that are worth thousands more — including private medical insurance, life assurance, subsidized meals and employee discounts, to name a few. “

“On top of this, we are delighted to announce that full-time, part-time and seasonal frontline staff will receive an additional one-time special payment of up to £500 as an extra thank you,” added the spokesperson.

Amazon has long been criticized for labor shortfalls, with the company accused of poor working conditions in its warehouse and delivery operations. In April, staff at the company’s Staten Island warehouse in New York became the first group in the US to vote in favor of joining a union.

The walkout will add to the wave of industrial action taking place across the country. In recent weeks, upcoming strike action has been announced by nurses, rail workers, postal workers, ambulance workers, airport staff, Border Force agents, highway workers, Eurostar staff, civil servants, bus drivers, firefighters, charity workers, meteorologists and offshore workers. . .

— CNBC’s Elliott Smith contributed to this report

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