Associate wearing PPE 4

Source: Amazon

Amazon warehouse worker strikes over pay are continuing and have spread to multiple sites.

Last night, according to organising union GMB, Amazon advised they “will not increase pay at any site in the UK”.

On Wednesday evening last week more than 700 workers at a warehouse in Tilbury, Essex walked out over a 35p pay rise announcement.

Earlier this week, workers at Tilbury, as well as at Amazon distribution sites in Dartford, Belvedere, Hemel Hempstead, Chesterfield, Swindon and Rugeley, started doing ‘slowdown work’ – picking just one package an hour so they are still paid.

Communications from Amazon to workers at one of the locations, seen by The Grocer, explains the starting hourly rate for ‘Tier 1’ workers will increase from £11.10 to £11.45 at the end of this month.

Workers are seeking a £2 per hour pay rise “to better match the demands of the role and cope with the cost of living crisis”.

Videos posted online show a member of Amazon management at one site telling protesting workers: “This is not going to get us anywhere. You wanted to make a point, you made the point”.

“The image the company likes to project, and the reality for their workers, could not be more different,” said Steve Garelick, regional organiser for the union behind the action, GMB.

“Amazon is one of the most profitable companies on the planet. They made a fortune through the pandemic when people were unable to shop on the high street. Now, with household costs spiralling, the least they can do is offer their workers decent pay,” he added.

Garelick claimed Amazon had threatened to fire Tilbury workers if they were caught filming.

Amazon told The Grocer that starting pay for all full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary roles in the UK will be increasing to 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 associates since 2018,” a spokeswoman said.

“On top of this, employees are offered a comprehensive benefits package that includes private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection, subsidised meals, an employee discount and more, which combined are worth thousands of pounds annually, as well as a company pension plan,” they added.

The spokesperson pointed out that the starting salary was above the national minimum wage and the Real Living Wage, and was higher than the starting salary at Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

The UK strike action received support from Christian Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), the first union at Amazon in the US, where the company has aggressively opposed unionisation among its workforce. “Shame on Amazon, we must not let up!” Smalls tweeted last week.