Politics

Amazon warehouse workers at Coventry walk out over pay in UK first

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REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

LONDON – Amazon workers at a warehouse in central England will walk out on Wednesday in a months-long wrangle over pay, marking the first time the US tech giant’s operations in Britain have faced strike action.

About 300 employees in Coventry are expected to take part in the industrial action, according to the trade union GMB.

Amazon increased starting pay by 50 pence to a minimum of between 10.50 and 11.45 pounds ($12.95 to $14.12) per hour last year. The country’s minimum wage, which is currently 9.50 pounds an hour, is set to rise to 10.42 in April.

Britain is facing its worst industrial unrest since Margaret Thatcher’s leadership, with staff in crucial sectors from nurses and ambulance workers to railways and lawyers staging strikes in fights for better pay to deal with surging inflation.

Setting out the strike date earlier this month, GMB Senior Organizer Amanda Gearing urged Amazon to give workers “a proper pay rise,” saying staff at one of the world’s most valuable companies should not have to strike to “win a wage they can live on.”

Amazon, which employs thousands of workers across its 30 warehouses in the UK, had then responded to say its pay was competitive.

Darren Westwood, who says he has been at Amazon for three and a half years, told Reuters that the latest pay rise was not enough, as wage growth has lagged inflation, which hit a 41-year high of 11.1% at one point last year.

“None of us want to strike. We’d all rather be in the warmth inside than be drinking tea out here in the cold, but it’s come to that point now where the cost of living has just gone crazy,” he said ahead of the walkout. – Reuters