UK Amazon Workers Strike For Better Conditions

Workers at the logistics center of retail giant Amazon in the United Kingdom went on strike for the first time today demanding better wages and working conditions.

Around 300 employees walked out of Amazon’s Coventry warehouse, the GMB union said, after denouncing a “paltry” 5% wage increase that led to £10.50 ($12.54) per hour worked.

Workers are asking the internet sales giant for £15 an hour to bring their wages in line with their US counterparts, who earn $18 an hour, the union said.

In the vote on the measure, more than 98 percent of the workers spoke in favor of the strike.

The workers denounced the “appalling” working conditions to BBC News, claiming they are constantly monitored and reprimanded for “downtime”, which lasts only a few minutes.

Union members said robots in warehouses were “treated better than employees.”

Big Step For Workers

Stuart Richards, a GMB union official said this is a big step for workers who have been ignored and “treated like robots”.

Union leader Amanda Gearing said in a statement that today Amazon workers in Coventry “will make history, becoming the first to go on strike in the UK from that company.”

“They have shown that they are willing to put themselves on the line to fight for what is right. But the people who work for one of the most valuable companies in the world shouldn’t have to threaten a strike just to earn a wage they can live on,” she said.

She said the GMB urged Amazon UK bosses to give workers a proper pay rise and avoid the move.

Darren Westwood, an Amazon worker, told Sky News that there are a lot of people who are getting paid minimum wage.

“It’s ten hours a day on my feet and I do 18,000 steps. That takes its toll on people. I have a shoulder injury and some days it’s so painful I can’t sleep because the pain keeps me awake,” he said.

He said that’s from the repetitive strain of doing the same thing over and over again.

Meanwhile, an Amazon spokesperson told local media that only a small proportion of the workforce is involved.

“In fact, according to verified figures, only a fraction of 1% of our UK employees voted on the ballot, and that includes those who voted against industrial action.”

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