Amazon warehouse workers went on strike for the first time in the UK on Wednesday over a dispute over wages and working conditions, adding to a wave of industrial labor action across the country due to the cost of living. skyrocketed.
Association members voted to quit their jobs at the e-commerce giant’s fulfillment center in Coventry, a city about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of London near Birmingham.
Amanda Gearing, a senior organizer for the GMB union, said Amazon employees who have been working in harsh conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic are just “trying to get paid what they deserve”. Another big problem, she said, is that performance targets set by an algorithm put extra pressure on workers.
The union is fighting for a pay raise more than the company’s offer, which it says is an extra 50 pence (61 cents) an hour.
Amazon, which operates 28 fulfillment centers in the UK, says 2,000 workers are working at its Coventry facility. The union said 98% of those who took part in the vote decided to go on strike, and Amazon said that number was just 178 workers.
The company says it is offering “competitive wages” starting from £10.50 to £11.45 an hour, depending on location. Amazon says that’s a 29% increase in minimum hourly wages for employees since 2018.
Business at Seattle-based Amazon has boomed during the pandemic but just like any other technology company, it reversed recent expansion as it faced economic uncertainty. This month, it announced layoffs of 18,000 employees.
Amazon employees are the latest group of British workers to join the queue as high food and energy prices have led to the highest inflation in decades. Nurses, ambulance workers, train drivers, border officers, driving instructors, bus drivers, teachers and postman All have quit their jobs in recent months to demand higher wages amid the cost-of-living crisis.
Amazon regularly faces protests and exits from workers who want Higher salary and better working conditions, including elsewhere in Europe, such as Spain and Germany.
Last year on Black Friday, a union of unions and Advocacy groups coordinated walks in more than 30 countries in a campaign called “Make Amazon Pay”. Organizers say they want the company to raise wages for hourly workers, extend sick leave and put an end to efforts to combat the merger, among other things.
In October, the company suspended dozens of workers at a New York warehouse after many of them staged protests and refused to return to shifts following a garbage compactor fire.
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