Amazon workers to stage first-ever UK strike over low pay starting today

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Amazon: Jobs at risk as warehouses are set to close

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Amazon workers will stage the first-ever UK strike against the online giant on Wednesday in a protest over pay. Members of the GMB union are walking out at Amazon's Coventry warehouse over what they call a "derisory" 50p an hour pay rise.

More than half of the 8,000 workers at a warehouse on Staten Island, New York, voted to join the Amazon Labor Union which has now been officially certified. However, the company has vowed to appeal the certification.

GMB union member Darren Westwood has called a “bully”.

He told Sky news: “I don't get fazed by things. I spent my life growing up and I'm at that stage where I'm not intimidated or worried.

"During the pandemic, people were thanking us and we appreciated that but Amazon were still making money, while we feel like we've been left behind.

Amazon

Unions have traditionally had a hard time penetrating Amazon (Image: Getty Images)

"The money is there. I know people say that it's the politics of envy but we're not asking for his [Jeff Bezos'] yacht or his rocket.

“We just won't be able to pay our way. And that's all we're asking."

On Wednesday, almost 300 workers are poised to walk out today - marking the first formal strike on British soil for the online giant.

The GMB union is calling on Amazon to pay its UK workers £15 an hour to bring their wages in line with their American counterparts, who earn $18 an hour.

However, Mr Westwood accepted that it would probably take a lot less than that to settle the dispute.

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Amazon workers

Amazon has been battling against unionisation in the US. (Image: Getty Images)

He said: “I'd be happy if they just increased it by £2. I think £2 an hour extra or £2.50 an hour extra would be acceptable. I think everyone would stop then and people would be happy.”

The company told Sky News that it pays a competitive local wage that has risen by 29 percent since 2018.

A spokesperson added: “We appreciate the great work our teams do throughout the year and we're proud to offer competitive pay which starts at a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour, depending on location.

"Employees are also offered comprehensive benefits that are worth thousands more - including private medical insurance, life assurance, subsidised meals and an employee discount, to name a few.”

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Amazon

On Wednesday, almost 300 workers are poised to walk out (Image: Getty Images)

The online giant, which launched in the UK in 1998, expanded rapidly during the pandemic.

It currently employs about 70,000 people in the UK, including 400 workers at the Doncaster centre, 500 at Hemel Hempstead and 300 at Gourock.

The firm operates two other warehouses in Doncaster as well as one in Dunstable, about 20 minutes drive from Hemel Hempstead, which Amazon said may be able to absorb staff affected by the closures.

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