Amazon workers in Tilbury in Essex have stopped working for the second day in a row as fury over the online retailer’s ‘insulting’ pay rise offer spread to three other UK warehouses .
The GMB union said around 50 workers gathered in the facility’s canteen on Friday to protest the offer, which represents an estimated increase of 3%.
They said the numbers were down from Thursday’s 700 protesters because the company engaged in “divide and conquer” tactics by sending managers to meet and talk with smaller groups of workers.
Amazon confirmed the meetings were taking place and said it was to ensure “all worker voices can be heard.”
It is understood that workers at the settlement are currently paid £11.10 an hour and are asking for a £2 raise, instead of the 35p offered by the online retailer.
Amazon said staff were being offered £10.50 or £11.45 an hour depending on location and defended their “competitive” pay package.
A Tilbury worker said those in the warehouse had for some time been worried about their pay due to rising bills at home and expected a ‘substantial increase’ of at least £1 from time.
“We were there for them during the pandemic and made sure the country was connected. Amazon was one of the ways [Covid-19] tests were sent to people and we went there and made sure the country was working,” they said.
“For all of this, just getting 35p is an insult. It’s like 3% compared [with] skyrocketing inflation and almost like getting a pay cut. I get stressed and anxious just thinking about [high energy bills] and that 35p won’t cover anything.
He said Amazon told those who wanted to protest by sitting in the canteen that they had to stop to do so – and therefore would not be paid for this time – which led most people to return to work. However, he added, a number of colleagues chose to “slow down” to show their dissatisfaction with the salary offer.
Anger over the offer has spread to warehouses in Coventry, Bristol and Rugeley in Staffordshire.
At the Avonmouth factory in Bristol, which employs around 1,500 people, 300 workers reportedly stopped work again on Friday after walking for two hours yesterday.
One worker told Bristol Live: ‘The fury and anger of staff must surely put Amazon back in the spotlight for the actual 6% pay cut when taking into account 9% inflation, which continues to grow.”
A regional GMB organizer, Rebecca Mitchell, said on Thursday around 500 workers at the Amazon warehouse at Lyon’s Park center in Coventry quit over a proposed 50p pay rise.
Around 100 workers were protesting outside the premises on Friday against the proposed increase, which Mitchell described as a “slap in the face”.
She added: “They worked with Covid and saw no pay rise. Their workload increased as people were confined and ordered more things and they’ve had enough.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “Starting pay for Amazon employees will increase to a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour, depending on location. This is for all full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary positions in the UK.
“In addition to this competitive salary, employees receive a comprehensive benefits package including private medical insurance, life insurance, income protection, subsidized meals and an employee discount, among others, which, combined, are worth thousands of dollars a year, plus a company pension plan.”