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Staff At Amazon Are Inspired By US Unions, Says Worker In Coventry

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Staff At Amazon Are Inspired By US Unions, Says Worker In Coventry

(CTN News) – A strike by Amazon workers in Coventry is inspired by colleagues’ unionization efforts in the US.

The GMB union says 300 warehouse workers walked out on Wednesday over a “derisory” 5% pay rise to £10.50 an hour at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse.

A worker at the site, Emma, who is not her real name, said UK employees wanted to emulate US staff.

Since 2018, Amazon has increased its pay by 29%, according to its statement.

In a New York warehouse vote last year, 55% of workers voted to join the Amazon Labour Union. The group was led by former worker Chris Small, who protested safety conditions at the retailer during the pandemic.

Earlier this month, regulators certified Amazon’s workers’ victory despite opposition to unionization. Amazon intends to appeal.

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Emma said opposition to unions frustrated her, but she was pleased progress had been made in New York.

“Amazon hates unions. We’re not allowed to talk about them.

According to her: “But you know, we look at Chris Smalls and Derrick Palmer in America and what they’ve accomplished and what’s happening in Europe, and why can’t we do that too?”

It’s our right to be paid fairly, and we deserve to work under humane conditions.

Rather than dismissing us and replacing us, we want them to listen to our concerns about health and safety in the building, about the conditions, about how they treat us, and about the pay.”

The absence of children

BBC previously reported that two workers were criticised if they had a few minutes of “idle time”.

According to Emma, some workers choose to work 60 hours a week just to survive.

“They don’t see their families, their children, because by the end of the 60 hours, they literally are going to sleep that day and then they go back to work the next day,” she explained.

“As with any industry,” Amazon said, employees were not forced to work long hours, but voluntary overtime was available on a regular basis, “just as in any other company.”

An Amazon spokesperson told us, “We are proud of the great work our teams do throughout the year, and we are proud to offer competitive salaries, starting at a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour, depending on the location where you live.”

This represents a 29% increase in the hourly minimum wage paid to Amazon employees over the last year.

Furthermore, the company said its employees were offered benefits “worth thousands more”, including private medical insurance, life insurance, and subsidized meals in addition to their regular salaries.

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