Amazon warehouse workers at a UK plant are planning a strike, their union confirmed to CNN on Friday, a move billed as a first for the company’s workers in the country.
The GMB union, which represents workers across a range of sectors in the UK, said hundreds of Amazon workers at a warehouse in Coventry were overwhelming voted in favor of the strike, which is expected to take place in the new year.
The labor action arises from the employee representation Dissatisfaction with Amazon’s proposed pay rises, union says In addition, rising inflation in the UK has forced households to grapple with soaring food and energy costs.
“Amazon workers in Coventry have made history – they will be the first in the UK to take part in a formal strike,” GMB chief organizer Amanda Gearing said in a statement to CNN on Friday. “The fact that they are being forced to go on strike to get a fair wage from one of the most valuable companies in the world should be a disgrace to Amazon.”
“Amazon can afford to do better,” Gearing added, noting that it’s “not too late to avoid strikes,” and urging Amazon to come to the negotiating table to “define the pay and the… to improve conditions for workers”.
In a statement to CNN on Friday, a UK spokesman for Amazon touted the company’s pay and benefits. “We appreciate the great work our teams put in throughout the year and are proud to offer competitive pay, starting at a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour, depending on location .”
“This represents a 29 percent increase in the minimum hourly wage paid to Amazon employees since 2018,” the statement added. “In addition, we are delighted to announce that full-time, part-time and seasonal frontline staff will receive an additional one-off bonus of up to £500 as an additional thank you.”
The move of 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 union at one of the company’s US facilities. Despite the landmark victory for the workers’ group known as the Amazon Labor Union, the company has yet to formally recognize the union or come to the negotiating table.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy hinted in a remark last month that the company’s legal battle with the union was “far from over,” although the National Labor Relations Board indicated the union was close to certification .
Other recent attempts to unionize at Amazon warehouses across the United States have been unsuccessful.