UK Amazon workers to protest over union recognition


By Rumeana Jahangir & PA MediaBBC News

PA Media Amazon staff members on a GMB union picket line outside the retailer's site in CoventryPA Media

Amazon workers have held strikes in the UK since early 2023

Amazon employees are expected to protest outside the firm’s warehouses in the UK in a dispute over workers’ rights.

It coincides with the start of a ballot in a “bid to force Amazon to recognise a union for the first time” in the country, the GMB union said.

The US online retailer said their workers “always have” the choice to join a union however GMB filed legal proceedings in April against the firm, claiming they were “engaged in widespread attempts to coerce staff to cancel their trade union membership”.

A GMB spokesman said the ballot’s results, which were expected on 15 July, could mean Amazon would be required to negotiate pay and conditions with them.

Reuters A man holds a sign saying "I am not a robot" during a previous rally in support of Amazon workers' on strike outside the Amazon warehouse in CoventryReuters

The GMB union will hold protests outside the firm’s sites in Warrington, Carlisle and London

The union has been struggling for the right to officially represent Amazon workers in Coventry for more than a decade.

It began its campaign for statutory recognition 18 months ago and there have been more than 30 days of strike action since early 2023.

About 3,000 workers at the Coventry site are expected to start voting on Monday on whether to have GMB representation.

The union will also hold protests outside the firm’s sites in Warrington, Carlisle and Dartford, Kent, as well as outside the head office in London.

It follows a three-week period during which union representatives were given access to the site by the government’s central arbitration committee.

Pay and conditions

Andy Prendergast, national secretary at GMB, said workers were concerned over “pay and unsafe conditions”.

“Amazon has had every chance to do the right thing – now workers are taking things into their own hands to make work better,” he added.

A representative for Amazon, which was was founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994, said: “Our employees have the choice of whether or not to join a union. They always have.”

They added they “regularly review” pay, adding: “Our minimum starting pay has increased to £12.30 and £13 per hour depending on location – that’s a 20% increase over two years and 50% since 2018.

“We also work hard to provide great benefits, a positive work environment and excellent career opportunities.”

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