Swindon Amazon workers remove tools on strike for pay rises and treatment

More than a hundred workers at the Amazon depot in Swindon have gone on strike over concerns over pay rises and the way they have been treated.

Workers first knocked down tools on Monday evening and began a sit-in protest in the canteen at the Woodside Road site which continued through Tuesday and is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

Staff say promises made when they joined the relatively new depot have not been kept and they are ‘treated like robots’.

There are also objections to Amazon’s proposed pay increase of 0.35p per hour which staff say is not sufficient to accommodate the increased demand and workload and to deal with the cost of living crisis.

Amazon workers in the canteen hold a sit-in and a cardboard sign encouraging others

“Today we were threatened with disciplinary action and treated like animals,” said a staff member taking part in the strike.

“It shows how we are treated, not just in the Swindon branch, but nationally. There is no respect and they treat us like robots.

“For example, our breaks start the moment we walk away from our packing area and the canteen is a 20-30 minute walk away, so often we only have 20 minutes of actual break time that goes unspent to come and go where the canteen is.”

A handwritten sign has been placed on a chair in the canteen that reads: ‘We are sitting here for our rights, please sit here as a unit. If these people don’t listen today, we will sit together tomorrow . We can all only achieve victory in this work by being together. Please don’t go.”

Swindon isn’t the only place to hit as well, with Tilbury, Dartford, Belvedere, Coventry and Rugeley also seeing walkouts.

David McMullen, a member of the GMB union, who is on the ground in Swindon, said he had sympathy for his colleagues who had chosen to embark on the unauthorized ‘wildcat strike’ and explained that the demands for GMB membership had skyrocketed.

“The pay rise has really broken the camel’s back, there’s a whole host of issues that mostly boil down to workers not being treated as human beings.

“We have nothing against companies making money, but it should never come at the expense of workers.”

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The Amazon depot in SwindonThe Amazon depot in Swindon

As a result, GMB has submitted a formal pay claim to the giant corporation, asking for an actual terms increase of £2 per hour.

In letters submitted on behalf of members across the country, GMB calls for wage talks – facilitated by government arbitration service ACAS

GMB Regional Organizer Steve Garelick said: “Amazon is one of the most profitable businesses on the planet. With household costs soaring, the least they can do is offer a living wage.

“Amazon continues to refuse to work with unions to provide better working conditions and fair compensation. Their repeated use of short-term contracts aims to undermine workers’ rights.

“The image the company likes to project and the reality for its workers couldn’t be more different. They must significantly improve wages and working conditions.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “Starting pay for Amazon employees will increase to a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45/hr, depending on location. This applies to all roles at full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary in Great Britain.

“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.”

In July, it was reported that Amazon’s main UK division was given a tax credit of just over £1million last year despite making profits of £204million , an increase of almost 60%.

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