The Associated Press
LONDON – More than 700 Amazon warehouse workers in England protested on Thursday over a pay dispute, in the latest sign of workplace friction over Britain’s cost of living crisis and growing discontent among employees over wages and working conditions.
The GMB union said workers at the facility in Tilbury, Essex, east of London, had to stop work after the ecommerce giant offered to raise wages by 35 pence (42 cents) an hour.
The union said workers want a £2 increase to better meet the demands of their jobs and deal with rising inflation. Amazon does not recognize the consortium, of which of its 28 UK facilities the Tilbury location is likely to be one of the most members.
“Amazon is one of the most profitable companies on the planet,” said Steve Garelik, regional organizer for the GMB Union for Logistics and the Gig Economy. “With household costs rising, they can at least offer a good salary.”
Gaelic shared videos of workers sitting at tables on Twitter, which he said showed a “return of labor” at the Tilbury warehouse.
He added that Amazon’s “repeated use of short-term contracts is designed to undermine workers’ rights.”
Amazon said UK warehouse employee pay would rise to between £10.50 and £11.45 an hour, in what it called “competitive pay”. But it depends on the location.
Also, the company said employees receive a comprehensive benefits package that includes private medical insurance, life insurance, subsidized meals and employee discounts that are “worth thousands annually” as well as company pension plans.
Similar protests have been held in the US, including in March, when more than 60 workers in New York and Maryland went to work for a $3 increase and the 20-minute return the company has been placed in during the pandemic. ,
Amazon raised its average hourly wage last year to $18 an hour.
The Amazon Labor Union, a nascent group made up of former and current Amazon workers, won its union election in Staten Island, New York, partly on a platform to raise wages to $30 an hour. But getting anywhere close to that is bound to be an uphill battle. Amazon is seeking to annul the union’s April victory and is petitioning the National Labor Relations Board for a new election.