Amazon warehouse workers at a facility in the United Kingdom plan to go on strike, their union confirmed to CNN on Friday, in a move that’s being billed as a first for the company’s workers in the country.
The GMB union, which represents workers in a range of industries in the UK, said that hundreds of Amazon workers at a warehouse in Coventry overwhelmingly voted for the strike, which is expected to take place in the new year.
The labor action stems from workers’ dissatisfaction over Amazon’s proposed pay raises, according to the union. It also comes as soaring inflation in the UK has forced households to grapple with skyrocketing food and energy costs.
“Amazon workers in Coventry have made history – they will be the first ever in the UK to take part in a formal strike,” Amanda Gearing, GMB senior organizer, said in a statement to CNN on Friday. “The fact that they are being forced to go on strike to win a decent rate of pay from one of the world’s most valuable companies should be a badge of shame for Amazon.”
“Amazon can afford to do better,” Gearing added, noting that it is “not too late to avoid strike action,” and urged Amazon to come to the bargaining table to “improve the pay and conditions of workers.”
In a statement to CNN on Friday, a UK Amazon spokesperson touted the company’s pay and benefits. “We appreciate the great work our teams do throughout the year and we’re proud to offer competitive pay which starts at a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour, depending on location.”
“This represents a 29 per cent increase in the minimum hourly wage paid to Amazon employees since 2018,” the statement added. “On top of this, we’re pleased to have announced that full-time, part-time and seasonal frontline employees will receive an additional one-time special payment of up to £500 as an extra thank you.”
The move from Amazon workers in the UK also comes as Amazon workers in the United States continue to organize and push for collective bargaining rights.
Amazon workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, made history earlier this year when they voted to form the first-ever labor union at one of the company’s US facilities. Despite the landmark victory for the worker group, known as the Amazon Labor Union, the company has yet to formally recognize the union or come to the bargaining table.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy suggested in remarks last month that the company’s legal battle with the union is “far from over,” despite the National Labor Relations Board indicating the union is on the cusp of being certified.
Other recent attempts to unionize at Amazon warehouses in the United States have come up short.