Amazon workers at UK warehouse strike again over pay, union recognition

By Thomson Reuters Mar 19, 2024 | 7:04 AM

By James Davey

LONDON (Reuters) – Around 1,400 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Coventry, central England, went on strike on Tuesday and plan to do so again on Wednesday as part of a long-running dispute over pay and union recognition, the GMB trade union said.

Britain has seen wider industrial unrest over the last two years as employees demand better wage rises to help offset high inflation. Amazon employs 75,000 in the UK, making the U.S. retail giant one of the UK’s top ten private-sector employers.

Amazon’s preference is to resolve issues with employees directly rather than through unions.

The latest Coventry strike comes a week after GMB members at the Amazon site submitted an application for mandatory union recognition to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).

If the CAC, an independent body with statutory powers, finds that more than half the Amazon workers at Coventry are GMB union members, Amazon would formally have to recognise the union – a first for the company in Europe.

If the CAC rules the union has over 40% of the workforce but less than 50%, a vote will be held on recognising the union.

Workers at the Coventry site first went on strike in January last year.

The company has been feeling the pinch of unionisation efforts globally. In 2022, workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York City voted to form the first union at the company.

The workers walked out of the U.S. retail giant’s Coventry site from 0630 GMT to 0830 GMT and will down tools again between 1730 GMT and 1930 GMT – with plans to repeat the walkout at the same times on Wednesday. Employees at Amazon’s Birmingham office plan strike action on March 27 and 28.

On salary, an Amazon spokesperson said the company regularly reviewed pay “to ensure we offer competitive wages and benefits.”

The spokesperson noted its minimum starting pay will, in April, increase to 12.30 pounds ($15.58) and 13 pounds per hour depending on location – a 20% increase over two years and 50% since 2018.

($1 = 0.7893 pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Bernadette Baum)