Amazon workers set to stage first ever strike in the UK 

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has big plans for the industry...if only we knew what they were

Immediate cause of the dispute was a 50p-an-hour pay rise offered to warehouse staff during the summer

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24 January 2023 | 0

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In news that will interest many of our bricks-and-mortar retail readers, Amazon workers at a vast depot in Coventry are set to stage a historic strike tomorrow, Wednesday, 25 January – the first time the delivery giant’s UK operations have ever been hit by industrial action.

The immediate cause of the dispute was a 50p-an-hour pay rise offered to warehouse staff in the summer, which many felt was insulting – particularly after they had worked throughout the Covid pandemic.

The Guardian* reports that staff have complained of gruelling round-the-clock shifts and constant, nitpicking monitoring by management.

One worker told the newspaper, it was impossible to make ends meet without signing up for a 60-hour week. “I don’t want Jeff Bezos’s boat,” he said. “I definitely don’t want his rocket. But I just want to live.”

Howver, Amazon claims to be relaxed about the stoppage, insisting that the strikers represent a small proportion of its workforce in Coventry, and that their action will have little or no impact on its operations. The company also points to a £500 cost-of-living payment offered to all staff over the busy Christmas period.

An industrial action ballot saw a majority of more than 98 per cent of workers vote to strike. Yet, according to The Guardian, while the GMB union has signed up about 300 members at the Coventry site, total staff numbers are estimated to reach 1,400 or more.

Amazon UK Services Limited reported that it paid just £10.8 million in tax in 2021, despite recording a pre-tax profit of £204 million.  

“Amazon workers in Coventry will make history,” said Stuart Richards, GMB Union senior organiser.

“They’ve defied the odds to become the first ever Amazon workers in the UK to go on strike. They’re taking on one of the world’s biggest companies to fight for a decent standard of living.

“They should be rightly proud of themselves,” Richards continued.

“After six months of ignoring all requests to listen to workers’ concerns, GMB urges Amazon UK bosses to do the right thing and give workers a proper pay rise.”

*(Source: First industrial action at Amazon UK hopes to strike at firm’s union hostility | Amazon | The Guardian )

 

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