Amazon warehouse workers at a facility in the UK plan to go on strike, their union confirmed to CNN on Friday, in a move billed as the first for the company’s workers in the country.
The GMB union, which represents workers in a variety of industries in the UK, said hundreds of Amazon workers at a warehouse in Coventry overwhelmingly they voted in favor of the strike, which is expected to take place in the new year.
The labor action derives from the dissatisfaction over Amazon’s proposed wage increases, according to the union. It also comes as runaway inflation in the UK has forced households to deal with skyrocketing food and energy costs.
“Amazon workers in Coventry have made history – they will be the first in the UK to take part in a formal strike,” Amanda Gearing, a senior organizer for GMB, said in a statement to CNN on Friday. “The fact that they are being forced to go on strike to earn a decent wage rate from one of the most valuable companies in the world should be a mark of shame on Amazon.”
“Amazon can afford to do better,” Gearing added, noting that “it’s not too late to avoid a strike,” and urged Amazon to come to the negotiating table to “improve workers’ pay and conditions.” .
In a statement to CNN on Friday, a UK Amazon spokesperson touted the company’s salary and benefits. “We appreciate the great work our teams do throughout the year and are proud to offer a competitive wage starting as low as £10.50-£11.45 per hour depending on location.”
“This represents a 29 percent increase in the hourly minimum wage paid to Amazon employees since 2018,” the statement added. “In addition to this, we are pleased to have announced that full-time, part-time and seasonal frontline employees will receive an additional one-time special payment of up to £500 as an added thank you.”
The UK Amazon workers movement also comes as Amazon workers in the US continue to organize and push for collective bargaining rights.
Amazon workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, made history earlier this year when they voted to form the first union at one of the company’s facilities in the United States. Despite the historic victory of the workers’ group, known as the Amazon Labor Union, the company has yet to formally recognize the union or go to the bargaining table.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy suggested in comments last month that the company’s legal battle with the union is “far from over,” despite the National Labor Relations Board indicating the union is nearing to obtain certification.
Other recent attempts to unionize at Amazon warehouses in the United States have fallen short.