Amazon fulfillment center laborers in the United Kingdom have launched the first company strike involving warehouse employees in the country’s history. The strike began yesterday in Coventry, demanding more than the 50 pence per hour wage increase that the company offered.
The strike is being conducted by the GMB Union, a trade union with over 500,000 members across a variety of industries. According to a press release from the GMB Union, over 98% of the unionized Amazon workers at the Conventry fulfillment center—dubbed BHX4—voted to strike. The strike began one minute after midnight London time, per CNBC.
“Today, Amazon workers in Coventry will make history,” said GMB Senior Organizer Stuart Richards in a statement. “They’ve defied the odds to become the first ever Amazon workers in the UK to go on strike. They’re taking on one of the world’s biggest companies to fight for a decent standard of living.”
The strike is in response to Amazon’s proposed 50 pence per hour wage increase, which equates to about 0.50 USD, for fulfillment center workers, which CNBC points out is below the rate of inflation. An Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg that the company offers a minimum pay “between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour, depending on location.” This equates to approximately $12.99 to $14.17, but the striking employees want a minimum of £15 which is around $18.56.
“Someone the other day said we’re treated like robots — no, robots are treated better,” one of the BHX4 employees told CNBC.
Labor organizing against Amazon has picked up steam worldwide since a warehouse in Staten Island voted to unionize this past spring. But union organizers have a tough road ahead against the tech giant, as Amazon is no stranger to pushing back against unions. The company reportedly spent $100,000 per month on consultants to union-bust at the company’s Staten Island warehouse.