Amazon workers in UK vote in historic union campaign

Amazon workers at a facility in the United Kingdom are voting this week on whether to join a union, marking the first time the tech giant has faced a union vote in Europe.  

The vote is among workers at a fulfillment center in Coventry who are deciding whether to join the GMB trade union. 

It is the first union vote at an Amazon facility in Europe, following a series of votes held at U.S. warehouses over the past few years.

The voting will run until Saturday, and a result is expected Monday, according to the GMB.

As the vote takes place, workers at Amazon warehouses in North and South England, Wales and Scotland will protest.  

“Workers have come together because of the poverty pay and unsafe conditions Amazon has thrust upon them. They want the same fair pay and safe conditions any of us would demand,” Andy Prendergast, GMB national secretary, said in a statement 

“Amazon has had every chance to do the right thing; now workers are taking things into their own hands to make work better,” he added.  

In April, GMB filed legal proceedings against Amazon alleging the company has pressured staff to leave the union, forced workers to attend antiunion seminars, displayed antiunion messaging through Amazon workplaces, and bullied and intimidated union representatives amongst Amazon staff.

“Our employees have the choice of whether or not to join a union. They always have,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement.

The spokesperson also touted Amazon’s minimum starting pay, of 12.30 and 13 pounds per hour depending on location, and Amazon’s work to “prioritize the safety and wellbeing of our employees.”

The spokesperson said the company uses a benchmark against the latest national data published by the Health and Safety Executive and has “over 50% fewer injuries on average than other transportation and warehousing businesses.”

“These are just some of the reasons people want to come and work at Amazon, whether it’s their first job, a seasonal role or an opportunity for them to advance their career,” they added.

The first union vote for an Amazon facility in Europe follows a vote in favor of forming an Amazon Labor Union at a facility in Staten Island, N.Y., in 2022. Members represented by the union voted to align themselves with Teamsters last month.

As the union aligns with Teamsters, the union is still seeking a contract with the e-commerce giant, The Associated Press reported.

The Amazon Labor Union victory in Staten Island is the only union election win yet for an Amazon facility in the U.S., despite other election attempts.

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