Wildcat strikes at Amazon spread in Britain
With inflation running around 10%, the Amazon workers at the Tilbury distribution center in southeast England expected a raise of £1 ($1.20) per hour. Instead, one of the most profitable companies in the world offered just 35 cents.
“People were in shock,” said one employee at the Tilbury warehouse, who is working with the nonprofit Foxglove Legal, which advocates for tech workers’ rights. Amazon workers consider the pay increase an insult at a time of broad increases in the cost of living, the worker said. “It’s absolutely pointless.”
Around 700 workers walked off the job, and then things got interesting when workers at warehouses in Coventry and Bristol also walked off the job.
— Steve Garelick (@steve_garelick) August 3, 2022
There has not previously been a walkout across multiple UK Amazon warehouses, said Steve Garelick, regional organizer at GMB. “This is the first time ever there's been cohesive action from the workers,” he said... In May, strikes took place at seven distribution centers across Germany, Amazon’s largest market in Europe.
“After Covid, after risking our lives in such uncertain times, it’s like spit in the face, getting 35p,” said another Amazon employee who took part in the walkout at the Tilbury facility. “We can see the company getting the profits.” Amazon reported quarterly profits of $14.3 billion in February but recorded a loss in its last two quarterly results.
However, concerns about the cost of living led other workers to conclude that they could not afford to join the walkout. “I need money,” said another worker at the Tilbury warehouse who remained at their station on Thursday instead of joining the cafeteria protest, and recently started taking overtime shifts to increase their income. “Inflation has been very rough on us.”
Labor unrest has since spread to other depots including Tilbury, Dartford, Belvedere, Hemel Hempstead and Chesterfield.