Members of the GMB union at the company’s fulfilment centre in Coventry voted to take industrial action in protest against a 50p-an-hour pay rise offered to the warehouse staff in the summer, - which many workers felt was insulting.
Staff have also complained about gruelling round-the-clock shifts and constant monitoring by management. The union is asking for £15-per-hour pay. Currently, members are paid £10.50 an hour - which represents a 45% rise.
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.”
Amazon has previously said that fewer than 300 of its 1,400 workers in Coventry are affiliated with the GMB and that there will be “zero impact” on customers because of the strike, adding that normal operations will continue.
The online giant pointed out that the Coventry site is a centre providing stock to its UK centres and not a fulfilment centre that directly services customer orders.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “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.”
Amazon to close three UK warehouses
Amazon has recently announced the closure of three UK warehouses which will impact 1,200 jobs. Sites in the west of Scotland, Hemel Hempstead, Donacsater and Gourock have been proposed to shut, with workers being offered roles at other existing Amazon locations.
The move comes as Amazon unveiled plans for two new major fulfilment centres in Peddimore in the West Midlands and Stockton-on-Tees in County Durham. It said the new centres will create 2,500 jobs over the next three years.