Coventry Amazon protest 11.22. Photo: Lenny Shail
Coventry Amazon protest 11.22. Photo: Lenny Shail

Max Mcgee, Nuneaton Socialist Party

GMB members in Coventry are taking strike action on 25 January – the first time the online retail giant has seen official strike action in the UK. This comes after wildcat actions that swept the country over the summer rejected a meagre 35p-an-hour pay increase. Workers in depots including Bristol, Tilbury, Dartford, Belvedere and Rugeley took part in sit down protests in Amazon canteens against the offer that would amount to just £10 a week for the average worker.

Now workers in Coventry represented by the GMB are going forward with strike action, supported by 98% of those who voted in the ballot to demand £15 an hour!

To show the support of the public, Coventry GMB has set up supporters’ meetings. At a recent one, a night-shift worker recounted how low-paid security guards at the warehouse are instructed to search workers’ clothes, bags and even turn their gloves inside out in search of union leaflets. This shows just how scared management is about workers getting organised.

The way the actions over the summer spread via photos and videos on social media, and now the winning of an official dispute show the potential that’s there to organise and win in this sector. Lone union members can take inspiration that when a lead is given and the anger bubbles over, workers will get organised and take on the bosses.

There are important opportunities to link workers across the warehouse and distribution sectors. Tesco workers at Hinckley warehouse in the Midlands voted in favour of strike action in December 2021 and were eventually met with an improved pay offer. Workers in warehouses and delivery centres across the country will be watching Amazon workers in Coventry and be inspired.

Activists from the National Shop Stewards Network and Youth Fight for Jobs will be at Amazon warehouses across the country on the strike day. We will be discussing with workers the lessons of the strike wave, how to organise in the trade unions, and how to fight for action to improve workers’ lives.