Amazon accused of union-busting in Midlands

Amazon accused of union-busting in Midlands

Amazon have been accused of deploying union-busting tactics at warehouses in the Midlands as the GMB union votes in favour of continued strikes in 2024. 

 

The decision has spread to three warehouses across the region. Over 1 000 workers are set to join the strike to demand the right to negotiate with the company over working conditions, as well as, a wage rise to £15 per hour after the company only offered a 5% raise last year, well below inflation. 

 

With long work hours, high injury rates and productivity targets that are “impossible”, people employed by the company have consistently criticised the company but these have largely gone ignored. In 2023, The Tribune reported incredibly concerning attitudes to workplace injuries alongside high rates of ambulance call outs to their warehouses across the UK. Between January 2018 to August 2021, 971 ambulances were called out to Amazon warehouses, up to five per week. 

 

Worse, employees interviewed have indicated that the corporation attempts to reduce these figures by encouraging employees to not contract emergency services. In an interview with an employee, The Tribune reported that: 

 

“They don’t really want ambulances to come on-site. Sometimes they will offer to pay for a taxi”.

 

Workers largely steel that they have been left out of the companies continuing successes, particularly alongside their hard work and poor treatment. CNBC, interviewing workers at a 24-hour strike in Coventry in 2023, a participant stated (in reference to the 5% wage raise, which translates to an extra 50p hourly):

 

“We all saw the profits they were making during the pandemic. We were expecting a better increase than what they were imposing.” 

 

With the conditions largely the same over a year later, action has spread to a third warehouse in the Midlands for the proposed strikes in 2024. 

 

Amazon’s reaction to this news has been to discredit the validity and effectiveness of unions. At message boards in warehouses across the region, a number of notices have appeared: 

 

“We want to speak with you. A union wants to speak for you.” 

 

“You don’t have to join a union to have your voice heard. We’ve got you.” 

 

“Before you vote or join a union, we encourage you to seek out the facts for yourself. The best relationships are the direct ones.” 

 

In response, GMB’s general secretary, Gary Smith, has called these notices “union-busting”. 

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