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Amazon Workers Set for Unprecedented UK Strike on Wednesday

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 1/25/2023 Nate Lanxon

(Bloomberg) -- Hundreds of Inc. warehouse workers in the UK walked off the job on Wednesday, the first such industrial action by the company’s British employees.

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While unprecedented, the strike affected a relatively small fraction of employees at the Amazon facility in Coventry. Of the approximately 2,000 workers there, about 280 members of the GMB Union were eligible to participate.

The union asked members to vote on a strike in December after Amazon offered a 50 pence-per-hour increase in pay that the GMB deemed insufficient. About 98% of workers who voted were in favor of walking out.

“After six months of ignoring all requests to listen to workers’ concerns, GMB urges Amazon UK bosses to do the right thing and give workers a proper pay rise,” GMB senior organizer Stuart Richards said.

An Amazon spokesperson denied the company had ignored the union’s concerns and said the strike would have “zero impact” on customers. 

“We’re proud to offer competitive pay which starts at a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour, depending on location,” Amazon said in a statement. 

The UK’s national living wage, for adults 23 years old and above, will rise to £10.42 in April from £9.50.

Wednesday’s strike follows a series of unofficial walkouts and slowdowns at warehouses across the UK last year after the pay raise was announced. Labor unrest has also roiled Amazon in the US, where an upstart union in New York last year won the right to bargain on behalf of workers, although the group lost two subsequent elections. 

© Photographer: Darren Staples/Bloomberg

Amazon is adjusting to slowing online sales growth as consumers resume their pre-pandemic shopping habits. The company has announced plans to cut more than 18,000 jobs in its corporate ranks and delayed warehouse openings. 

In the UK, Amazon is shuttering three warehouses that employ 1,200 workers, although the company said it plans to open two new fulfillment centers there that will ultimately provide jobs for 2,500 people.

Read more: Amazon to Slash More Than 18,000 Jobs in Escalation of Cuts

(Updated to add context in second paragraph.)

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