‘I’m not giving up’: Amazon workers defiant on second strike day

'We want to grind Amazon to a halt this week'

Amazon strike

Amazon workers in Coventry continue their fight for fair pay today as they take their second day of strike action.

They made history on 25 January by becoming the first Amazon workers in the UK to take industrial action.

In a bigger day of action, more than 350 members of GMB union at the West Midland fulfilment centre are walking out today and again on Thursday 2 March, then for a week from 13-17 March.

Fighting for a pay rise from £10.50 to £15 an hour, Amanda Gearing, GMB Senior Organiser, highlighted that in April, workers will be earning just 8 pence above the national minimum wage.  

This morning, Amazon employees Darren Westwood and Conor Geraghty, woke up at 3am to join the picket line.

Ahead of the strike they told LFF why they are taking action.

“They want us to put our blood sweat and tears into their company yet give us pittance for it,” said Conor. “It’s not acceptable, nobody is motivated to do anything at the moment, it’s just really dififcult.

“We’re not working to live, we’re living to work and that’s with people working 6 days a week.

“The last strike was fantastic, but we’ve got bigger numbers now and we want to make more of an impact.

“We want to grind Amazon to a halt this week.”

The financial impact of strike action for workers is weighed up by the struggle to survive working full-time, for one of the most profitable companies in the world.

Amazon UK Services Limited recording a pre-tax profit of £204 million in 2021, whilst paying just £10.8 million in tax.

In response to an ‘insulting’ 50 pence per hour pay offer from Amazon last August, a series of wildcat strikes took place at warehouse across the UK.

Darren became an instigator for strike action at his Coventry warehouse as he said current wages have left workers feeling demotivated and with little alternative but to strike.

“If they just increased the wage it would mean people would start working harder, they’d get more out of people.

“But the amount of people with their chins on the ground, because it’s just nothing.”

Fellow worker Conor said Amazon are trying to mitigate the effects of strike action, by making employees work extra hard ahead of strike days.

“They’ve been doubling or tripling the workload ready for when we go on strike so that it won’t impact them too much,” said Conor.

“At the moment we should be doing about 400,000 – 600,000 units a day as a building.

“However because the strikes are coming up, for the past two weeks we’ve been pushing 1.1 to 1.2 million every single day.”

However, Darren believes that logistically the strikes are having an impact, and making their management look like ‘morons’.

He explained: “When we sort everything into black totes, those go to the fulfilment centres but because they’re full, they can’t send any empty ones back so hopefully by the end of this week, which happened last time, we start running out of totes and they have to put out an emergency call to get empty ones.

“So it may not cost them financially but logistically it makes Coventry look like morons.”

It was also reported this morning that a truck was turned around after being approached by Amazon workers, the ‘first victory of the day’ according to Stuart Richards, GMB Union official on Twitter.

The vehicle entrance to the warehouse was also reportedly brought to a standstill this morning due to the strike action.

As well as logistics, the strike action has been effective in telling other workers about their rights.

Nearly 100 workers joined the union on their first day of strike action, as Conor reflected on the turn out.

“It was surprising to see who turned up as there were people you wouldn’t expect as they’re such hard working, quiet people in the building.

“People who work their hardest every single day and are fantastic employees, but they’ve got to the point where they’re so sick of being underpaid, mistreated all day every day that they have join the union to try and make a change.”

Initial, one in 50 Amazon employees were part of the union, now it was one in five said Darren.

Workers are determined to fight for as long as it takes to achieve a fair pay deal with their employer, even if it means making financial sacrifices.

Darren told LFF that there was apprehension but also excitement from workers ahead of today’s strike, ‘because we are doing something’.

“I’d rather get their tomorrow and fail than not do something,” said Darren. “Motivation wise I’m 100%, I’m not giving up.”

He added: “Financially, I’ll keep going, as long as I pay my rent, keep my car on the road, heat the house and feed the kids I’m happy.

“Everything else can wait if necessary.”

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

(Image Credit: Taj Ali / Twitter)

Left Foot Forward’s trade union reporting is supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust

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