Unprecedented strike by Amazon employees in the United Kingdom

Posted Jan 25, 2023, 6:51 PM

Sector after sector wage demands continue to rock employers in the UK. And for the first time in the country, Amazon is affected by a strike by its employees to demand better wages. “Hundreds of Amazon workers are on strike today in Coventry, over 98% of them supporting the social movement,” tweeted the GMB union, with a photo showing strikers near this central England warehouse.

“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 an appropriate pay rise,” the organizer said. GMB principal Stuart Richards in a statement. Warehouse union members staged a strike vote in December after Amazon offered a pay rise of 50p per hour. About 98% of the workers who took part in the vote approved the strike.

An Amazon spokesperson denied that the company had ignored the concerns and said the strike would have “no impact” on customers. “We are proud to offer a competitive salary which starts at a minimum of £10.50 to £11.45 per hour, depending on location,” they said in a statement.

A GMB manager interviewed by the BBC points out that employees are currently earning £10 an hour and asking for £15, arguing that a digital giant like Amazon can afford it. The minimum wage in the UK, for adults aged 23 and over, will rise from £9.50 to £10.42 in April.

18,000 layoffs worldwide

Wednesday’s strike follows a series of unofficial walkouts and slowdowns at warehouses across the UK since last year after the pay rise was announced.

While the UK strike is significant as the first of its kind in the country for Amazon, it is just one of many significant challenges facing the Seattle-based e-commerce giant. Earlier this month, it announced plans to cut more than 18,000 jobs, representing around 1% of the total number of employees, in the biggest round of layoffs in its history.

The company is having to adjust to a dramatic downturn in online shopping after consumers resumed pre-pandemic retail habits, and it has delayed warehouse openings and halted hiring at its group of retail. In the UK, it has already been announced that it plans to close three of its warehouses this year in a move that will affect around 1,200 employees.

Amazon, which had recruited with a vengeance during the pandemic to meet the explosion in demand, notably saw its net profit drop by 9% over one year in the third quarter of 2022 to 2.87 billion dollars. The US Labor Law Agency (NLRB) on Wednesday validated the vote that led to the creation, in early 2022, of the first union in one of Amazon’s warehouses in the United States, a vote against which the company had filed objections. objections.

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