Britain Strikes
Members of the GMB union stand on the picket line outside the Amazon fulfillment centre, as Amazon workers stage their first ever strike in the UK in a dispute over pay, in Coventry, England, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (Jacob King/PA via AP)

Amazon workers hold first UK strike, adding to labor turmoil


Amazon warehouse workers went on strike for the first time in Britain on Wednesday because of a dispute over pay and working conditions, adding to a wave of industrial labor action across the country fueled by the soaring cost of living.

Union members voted to walk off the job for one day at the e-commerce giant's fulfillment center in Coventry, a city about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of London near Birmingham.

Amanda Gearing, a senior organizer with the GMB union, said Amazon staff who worked through tough conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic are just “trying to get decent pay." Another big issue is performance targets set by an algorithm that piles extra pressure on workers, she said.

The union is fighting for a bigger pay raise than the company's offer, which it says amounts to an extra 50 pence (61 cents) an hour.

Amazon, which operates 30 fulfillment centers in the United Kingdom, said 2,000 workers are employed at the Coventry facility. The union says 98% of those who took part in the vote decided to strike, and Amazon said that amounts to only 178 workers.

The company said it's offering “competitive pay” starting at 10.50 to 11.45 pounds an hour, depending on location. Amazon says that is a 29% increase in the minimum hourly wage for employees since 2018.

Business at Seattle-based Amazon boomed during the pandemic but, like other tech companies, it has been reversing recent expansions as it faces economic uncertainty. This month, it announced 18,000 layoffs.

Amazon staff are the latest group of British workers to join the picket lines as high food and energy prices drive the highest inflation in decades. Nurses, ambulance workers, train drivers, border staff, driving instructors, bus drivers, teachers and postal workers have all walked off their jobs in recent months to demand higher pay amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Amazon routinely faces protests and walkouts from workers who want higher wages and better working conditions, including elsewhere in Europe, such as Spain and Germany.

Last year on Black Friday, a coalition of unions and advocacy groups coordinated walkouts in more than 30 countries under a campaign called “Make Amazon Pay.” Organizers said they wanted the company to boost pay for hourly workers, extend sick leave and end its effort to fend off unionization, among other things.

In October, the company suspended dozens of workers at a New York warehouse after many of them staged a protest and refused to return to their shifts following a trash compactor fire.

AP Business Writer Haleluya Hadero in New York contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Best of luck striking Amazon warehouse workers !!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sterling was $1.65 before the Brexit referendum. It is now $1.24. That's a reduction in real terms of one quarter of the assets of all Britons. Their house value, their savings and their pay. As almost everything is priced in USD (including North Sea oil), Brexit made the UK about 25% poorer. So although prices are perceived to be going up, in fact it is the local currency that has gone down. It has taken time for that to filter through to supermarket checkouts. Many of the strikers voted for Brexit, effectively voting to be poorer.

That's how much Brexit cost the British people: One quarter of everything they have. Truss very nearly took it down to one third.

Covid and Ukraine were just the icing on the cake, but have been used to cover things up by the Tory government.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That's how much Brexit cost the British people: One quarter of everything they have. Truss very nearly took it down to one third.

Britons who voted for Brexit voted to put sanctions on their own country. Sanctions are when you raise the tax on the goods coming into your country (or deny them altogether), and that's exactly what has happened in Briton - without being a part of the EU bloc, they now have to pay more for things coming in, with some things not allowed at all.

Anyone with intelligence knew this was a ridiculous emotional response to societal problems, rather than a logical one, but unfortunately more Brits who lacked that intelligence voted for Brexit than voted to stay.

If I were an intelligent Brit, I think I'd be looking to migrate to the EU.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites