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Amazon warehouse workers begin U.K. strike ballot over pay

Sept. 15, 2022 Updated Thu., Sept. 15, 2022 at 8:33 p.m.

An Amazon.com fulfillment center in the United Kingdom.  (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)
An Amazon.com fulfillment center in the United Kingdom. (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)
By Thomas Seal Bloomberg

Hundreds of workers at an Amazon.com warehouse in Coventry, England, have begun a formal strike ballot on Thursday, adding to a season of widespread industrial action in Britain.

The ballot begins Thursday and will run until Oct. 19, the GMB union said in an emailed statement. Any action to protest the company’s pay packages would likely take place in November, the union said, which could disrupt distribution activity on Black Friday and Christmas.

Workers have been threatening strikes across the U.K. after a major rise in the cost of living. Two of Britain’s largest ports are bracing for overlapping dockworker walkouts in coming weeks, threatening more disruption to the nation’s trade flows in a dispute over pay.

Around 115,000 Royal Mail staff are due to take two days of action from Sept. 30, according to plans previously announced by the Communication Workers Union.

Hundreds of workers stopped or slowed their work in warehouses across the U.K. in August. Staff on social media and in private messaging groups on WhatsApp and Telegram have been calling for further protests and work stoppages at multiple sites, and for their hourly wage to rise to 15 pounds, or $17.28, according to a report by Bloomberg.

“Starting pay for Amazon employees has increased to a minimum of between 10.50 pounds and 11.45 pounds per hour, depending on location,” an Amazon spokesman said by email. “This represents a 29% increase in the minimum hourly wage paid to Amazon associates since 2018.”

He added that employee benefits also include insurance, meals and discounts, “which combined are worth thousands of pounds annually.”

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