Friday, 3 Feb 2023

Amazon faces chaos as company warned strikes could spread across UK

Amazon: Jobs at risk as warehouses are set to close

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Amazon warehouses across the UK could see strike action after members of the GMB union at the company’s Coventry warehouse rejected a pay offer said to be worth an extra 50p an hour, it has been warned. Stuart Richards, GMB senior organiser, said: “Today, Amazon workers in Coventry will make history. 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.

“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.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: “A tiny proportion of our workforce are involved.

“In fact, according to the verified figures, only a fraction of 1% of our UK employees voted in the ballot – and that includes those who voted against industrial action.

“We appreciate the great work our teams do throughout the year and we’re proud to offer competitive pay which starts at a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour, depending on location.

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

Speaking to the BBC, two GMB members and Amazon workers described their experiences working for the company.

Darren Westwood and Garfield Hilton claimed that going to the toilet can lead to questioning from managers.

They added that managers track staff’s “idle time”, interrogating employees if they are inactive for a period of time.

Amazon told the BBC that “performance is only measured when an employee is at their station” and “if an employee logs out, which they can do at any time, the performance management tool is paused.”

GMB has said that 300 of the 1,500 workers in Coventry will walk out.

Amanda Gearing, a senior GMB union organiser, believes that the strike action in Coventry could spread elsewhere in the UK.

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Ms Gearing said: “Coventry might be the start [of the strikes], but it won’t be the finish. We know there are workers in other centres that feel exactly the same.

‘People are having to choose between heating their homes and… eating really, so it’s not good enough, not from someone like Amazon that’s got billions and billions of pounds of profit during the pandemic.”

During the Covid pandemic, Amazon’s global sales and profits enjoyed a huge boost as people were forced to shop online.

Between 2019 and 2020, profits nearly doubled to £17.2billion and jumped up again to £26billion the following year.

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