Amazon workers will stage the first-ever UK strike against the online giant on Wednesday in a protest over pay. Members of the GMB union are walking out at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse over what they call a “derisory” 50p an hour pay rise.
More than half of the 8,000 workers at a warehouse on Staten Island, New York, voted to join the Amazon Labor Union which has now been officially certified. However, the company has vowed to appeal the certification.
GMB union member Darren Westwood has called a “bully”.
He told Sky news: “I don’t get fazed by things. I spent my life growing up and I’m at that stage where I’m not intimidated or worried.
“During the pandemic, people were thanking us and we appreciated that but Amazon were still making money, while we feel like we’ve been left behind.
“The money is there. I know people say that it’s the politics of envy but we’re not asking for his [Jeff Bezos’] yacht or his rocket.
“We just won’t be able to pay our way. And that’s all we’re asking.”
On Wednesday, almost 300 workers are poised to walk out today – marking the first formal strike on British soil for the online giant.
The GMB union is calling on Amazon to pay its UK workers £15 an hour to bring their wages in line with their American counterparts, who earn $18 an hour.
However, Mr Westwood accepted that it would probably take a lot less than that to settle the dispute.
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The online giant, which launched in the UK in 1998, expanded rapidly during the pandemic.
It currently employs about 70,000 people in the UK, including 400 workers at the Doncaster centre, 500 at Hemel Hempstead and 300 at Gourock.
The firm operates two other warehouses in Doncaster as well as one in Dunstable, about 20 minutes drive from Hemel Hempstead, which Amazon said may be able to absorb staff affected by the closures.