GMB members speak to the Socialist

GMB members at Amazon’s BHX4 Coventry site have once again voted for strike action. The vote followed an intense campaign to get the turnout required by the anti-strike laws. Phone banking made sure every member knew how to vote, and hadn’t forgotten to. Socialist Party members backed up the campaign, along with other supporters, leafleting at the site.

A year after official action began at Coventry, strike action has started at the recently opened Minworth site in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham. For at least six months there will be two Amazon sites with live mandates for action. Coventry isn’t on its own any more, Minworth won’t be alone, and Amazon workers at sites across Britain and overseas will see that wider organising against Amazon is possible.

Two Coventry reps spoke to the Socialist

How did you win the ballot?

We had a hard campaign. Managers put posters targeting the union in the toilets, flyers on boards and in the canteen, saying: ‘We want to hear your voice’. Managers said: ‘We want to talk with you, the union wants to talk for you’. But the bosses have heard our voices plenty of times, and nothing’s changed! There’s an anti-union vibe to everything.

We had to keep reminding the members. They do 60-hour weeks, so they have enough to live on, and don’t have the energy or time to post the vote. You wake up, go to work, go home, eat something quickly, then sleep. After a 12- to 14-hour day, plus travel, it’s easy to forget or not have time to post a ballot.

There’s the added difficulty of many members who speak different languages, plus some members who are very new to the concept of a trade union. But months of struggle has helped break through those barriers. More reps and activists with different languages and backgrounds have stepped up.

What’s the difference now you have two sites with live ballots?

Amazon are now getting a bit jittery!

Socialist Party members supported the Sutton picket line. Some had worked at the Coventry warehouse previously and so had been on picket lines there. One told the Socialist that the conditions at the Sutton warehouse are worse. Staff are discouraged from even talking to colleagues while on shift, and if people end up having a bit of a chat while they work, they are separated. Another told us that, as in Coventry, Amazon was taking on extra workers to reduce the proportion of union members.