Home Business Coventry Amazon employees launch initial three-day strike in ongoing dispute

Coventry Amazon employees launch initial three-day strike in ongoing dispute

Workers demand pay increase to £15 per hour, gather at picket line


Amazon workers at the company’s Coventry warehouse have embarked on a fresh round of strikes in response to the company’s pay rates during the cost-of-living crisis. Members of the GMB union will undertake a total of six days of strikes, with the first three days starting on Sunday, April 16, and the second three from April 21 to 23. Workers are protesting against the current pay rate of £11 per hour and are demanding an increase to £15 per hour.

This is the latest action by Coventry workers, who began protesting in January in the first-ever industrial action by Amazon workers in the UK. GMB membership among Amazon workers at Coventry and other sites has surged since the dispute began, with over 600 workers expected to take part in the two three-day strikes compared to the 300 who initially took part.

Workers gathered on a picket line for two hours from 6.30am on Sunday morning and will repeat the action on Sunday afternoon. By the end of April, workers will have gone on strike for a total of 14 days.

The union claims to be closer to the 50% membership level required for it to apply for statutory recognition. Amazon has so far refused to recognise or negotiate with unions.

Amazon has given two pay increases of 50p per hour since the dispute began in Coventry. The first increase followed an informal walkout last summer, with the second granted in recent weeks. The workers also received a one-off £500 cost of living payment. However, workers are dissatisfied with the pay increase as they believe it does not reflect their efforts throughout the pandemic nor provides sufficient support in the face of rising food and energy prices.

The GMB has described the current pay rises as an “insult,” stating that the increases amount only to an average of between 1.8% and 2.5%. Amazon workers believe they deserve more and will not accept a “pay rise of pennies” from one of the world’s wealthiest corporations, said Amanda Gearing, GMB senior organizer.

The union is also looking to test the appetite for strike action among Amazon workers at another five UK distribution centers. The GMB claims that Amazon is in breach of the UK’s minimum wage legislation, and it has called for an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs into the company’s pay practices.

Amazon said in a statement that the company regularly reviews its pay to ensure it offers competitive wages and recently announced another pay increase for its UK teams. Amazon’s minimum pay has risen by 10% over the past seven months and by more than 37% since 2018, the company said.

Amazon previously said that the Coventry dispute involves less than 1% of its total UK workforce. However, the GMB has claimed that Amazon is failing to acknowledge the efforts of its workers during the pandemic and said that the strikes are necessary to ensure fair pay and conditions.

The dispute highlights the ongoing tensions between Amazon and its workers, with complaints about pay rates and working conditions being made by staff around the world. The company is facing growing scrutiny over its labor practices, with calls for greater regulation and intervention by governments and unions.

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