Amazon UK Warehouse Stages Another 2-Day Strike

Amazon warehouse workers in the U.K. are hitting the pavement yet again with another series of strikes as hundreds of employees demand higher wages and seek out union recognition.

Strikes took place at a distribution center in Coventry, England, which has been a hotbed for labor stoppages over the past year, on Tuesday. The work action will continue into Wednesday, according to the GMB Union representing the 1,400 workers went on strike. Multiple worker stoppages occurred during the day, one in the morning from 6:30 to 8:30 local time and again at 5:30 to 7:30 in the evening after shifts changed.

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The union says employees at Amazon’s Birmingham fulfillment center will strike on March 27-28.

The latest Coventry strike comes a week after GMB members at the Amazon site submitted an application for mandatory union recognition to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC). Although the workers organized under GMB, Amazon has never officially recognized the employees as officially unionized.

“Fresh strike action will be a huge blow to Amazon bosses, just days after workers made their bid for union recognition. Now two Amazon sites will take strike action this spring to force the company to listen to workers,” said Rachel Fagan, an organizer at GMB. “Amazon bosses may have hoped this campaign would fade away, but instead union membership at Amazon has exploded as more and more workers are standing up to demand Amazon listens.”

“When Amazon [is] ready to listen, the message they’ll hear is simple; 15 pounds an hour and union rights for UK Amazon workers,” Fagan said.

If the CAC, a government body that oversees trade union recognition and collective bargaining agreements, finds that more than half the Amazon workers at Coventry are GMB union members, then Amazon would formally have to recognize the union.

Union recognition would mean Amazon have to sit down with GMB on matters relating to pay, worker safety and other terms and conditions.

GMB would be the first union to be recognized by Amazon in Europe if the 50 percent participation threshold is passed. Thus far in the U.S., Amazon has yet to recognize the first union that voted to organize in 2022. That organization, the Amazon Labor Union, is based out of a warehouse in Staten Island, N.Y.

Amazon, on the other hand, said the strikes will have zero impact on customer orders.

By April, Amazon says its minimum starting pay in the U.K. will have increased to 12.30 pounds ($15.58) and 13 pounds ($16.54) per hour depending on location, representing 20 percent increase over two years and 50 percent since 2018.

“We regularly review our pay to ensure we offer competitive wages and benefits,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “We also work hard to provide great benefits, a positive work environment and excellent career opportunities. These are just some of the reasons people want to come and work at Amazon, whether it’s their first job, a seasonal role or an opportunity for them to advance their career.”

Amazon says warehouse safety has improved

The strike action in the U.K. comes days after Amazon touted improvements in worker safety at its warehouses in 2023.

Amazon says its recordable incident rate (RIR)—a metric tracking any work-related injury that requires more than basic first-aid treatment—has improved 30 percent over the past four years and 8 percent year over year.

Another metric, lost time incident rate (LTIR)—which includes any work-related injury that requires someone to take time away from work—has improved 60 percent over the past four years and 16 percent from 2022 numbers.

Amazon noted that in some cases, it has a lower injury rate than the average reported from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Amazon puts itself into two categories: the general warehousing and storage industry, and the courier and express delivery services industry.

Amazon recorded 6.5 injuries per 200,000 working hours in its warehouse division in 2023, compared with the BLS average of 6.8 for warehouses with more than 1,000 employees, the company said last week.

One industry advocacy group is questioning Amazon’s use of data. According to a National Employment Law Project analysis of data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Amazon makes up roughly 71 percent of the category for warehouses with more than 1,000 employees.

Taking Amazon out of the calculation, the analysis found, the average injury rate for warehouses with more than 1,000 workers would drop from 6.8 to 3.6. That would put Amazon’s injury rate significantly above the industry average.