Amazon workers in Coventry announce seven more days of strike action

America’s senior financial regulator has increased pressure on Amazon to be more open over its global tax affairs by rejecting the technology group’s move to block a shareholder vote on greater transparency.

Amazon workers at a warehouse in Coventry have announced seven more days of strike action as they continue their push for better pay.

More than 310 staff at a giant fulfilment centre in the West Midlands city will strike on 28 February, 2 March and from 13 to 17 March, according to the GMB union.

The workers became the first ever employees of the online retailer in the UK to take strike action on 25 January. They are asking for higher pay and have also complained of overbearing management practices and long hours.

The strike threat came as workers across the UK economy face a steep fall in real-terms pay because of high inflation. However, it also follows an announcement last month by Amazon’s chief executive, Andrew Jassy, that the company is to cut 18,000 jobs globally in response to slowing economic growth after the pandemic tech boom.

Amazon has not recognised the union, continuing a pattern of hostility towards organised labour across the world. The company has consistently argued that its employees should not unionise.

The striking Coventry workers, a minority of the 1,400 staff working at the warehouse, are seeking £15 an hour, a 43% increase from the £10.50 rate they are paid. Amazon had offered a 5% rise, 50p more an hour. The national living wage, the legal minimum, is £10.42 an hour for workers over 23.

Amazon has previously said it gave staff a £500 cost of living payment at Christmas.

Amanda Gearing, a GMB senior organiser, said: “This unprecedented week-long strike shows the anger among Amazon workers in Coventry. They work for one of the richest companies in the world, yet they have to work round the clock to keep themselves afloat.

“It’s sickening that Amazon workers in Coventry will earn just 8p above the [minimum wage] in April 2023. Amazon bosses can stop this industrial action by doing the right thing and negotiating a proper pay rise with workers.”

Amazon has also faced a push for increased unionisation in the US. In November a US judge ruled that the company cease and desist from retaliating against workers for organising in the workplace at a warehouse in Staten Island, New Jersey. Workers at the warehouse were the first Amazon employees to win a union vote in the US, although the compnay has defeated other attempts to unionise in the US.

An Amazon spokesperson said the workers going on strike represented only a small proportion of its Coventry workforce.

“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% increase in the minimum hourly wage paid to Amazon employees since 2018,” the spokesperson added.