Amazon Warehouse Workers Stage First-Ever Strike in the UK
On Tuesday, workers at an Amazon warehouse in southeast England made history as they staged a four-hour strike, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK to involve a major online retailer.
Organizers of the strike, which was supported by labor union Unite, alleged that Amazon’s warehouse workers are “treated worse than robots” and that the company fails to address issues faced by many of its workers.
Reason for the Strike
The workers are demanding improved working conditions such as reductions in the number of warehouses and improved morale for those tasked with packing items into boxes. The union has also highlighted how Amazon workers are subject to surveillance through CCTV cameras 24/7.
The union has also raised safety concerns, noting that workers are operating within a system in which human health and safety are constantly jeopardized by automated machines. The union contends Amazon has purposely made warehouse facilities vast and complicated in order to distribute risks onto workers.
Rally at Amazon Headquarters
The strike’s organizers planned to rally outside Amazon’s headquarters in London on Tuesday to amplify their message, and released a statement criticizing the company for its “unacceptable working conditions”. The statement outlined the following grievances:
- Long hours: Staff can be required to work more than 60 hours in one week and more than 10 hours per shift.
- Low pay: Workers are paid on an hourly basis at a rate of approximately £10 an hour (about $14.50 USD) which is below the Living Wage.
- Unsafe working conditions: The work is physically demanding and there is a lack of appropriate protective equipment, or the equipment supplied is not properly maintained.
- High pressure environment: Employees are judged and monitored constantly and excessively, and workers receive little to no support or understanding when experiencing difficulties.
The Tuesday strike follows a series of protests by Amazon workers in the US, France, Germany and Spain. It is believed to be the first strike of its kind in the UK, with organizers expecting it to be just the start of their campaign to improve working conditions for Amazon staff.