Amazon warehouse staff engage in slowdown strikes over pay

amazon warehouse

Employees working at Amazon warehouses have launched ‘slowdown work’ protests in order to draw attention to issues around pay.

The action originally started on 4 August, when staff at a warehouse in Tilbury, Essex walked out in protest of the retail business’ pay offer, which amounted to a 35p per hour increase.

This week, employees at warehouses in various locations, including Tilbury, Dartford, Belvedere, Hemel Hempstead and Chesterfield started slowing down their work, processing only one package per hour, in order to disrupt service while continuing to be eligible for pay.

Employees in several locations have also staged ad hoc protests, including sit-ins and picket lines, with signs explaining the issue and encouraging other staff to join. The action is set to continue indefinitely, according to trade union GMB.

Amazon employees have asked for a £2 per hour pay rise in order to better match the role and the rising cost of living.

Steve Garelick, regional organiser at GMB, said: “Amazon is one of the most profitable [organisations] on the planet.

“They made a fortune through the pandemic when people were unable to shop on the high street. Now, with household costs spiralling, the least they can do is offer their workers decent pay.

“Amazon continues to reject working with trade unions to deliver better working conditions and fair pay. Their repeated use of short-term contracts is designed to undermine worker’s rights.

“The image the [organisation] likes to project, and the reality for their workers, could not be more different. They need to drastically improve pay and working conditions.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: “Starting pay for Amazon employees will be increasing to a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45p/h, depending on location. This represents a 29% increase in the minimum hourly wage paid to Amazon associates since 2018.

“On top of this, employees are offered a comprehensive benefits package that includes private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection, subsidised meals, an employee discount and more, which combined are worth thousands of pounds annually, as well as a company pension plan.”

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This followed the news earlier this week that Amazon had enhanced its support for staff tackling higher education, and prior to that, that it was one of the best employers for working parents, and had committed to reimbursing staff for costs around accessing abortions. However, it is not the first time that staff have raised concerns around pay and working conditions, with protests taking place in 20 countries towards the end of 2021.

Amazon was contacted for comment prior to publication.