HomeTech Amazon UK workers begin voting for union recognition for the first time

Amazon UK workers begin voting for union recognition for the first time

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Amazon UK workers begin voting for union recognition for the first time

Amazon workers in the UK have moved a step closer to gaining union recognition for the first time as GMB officials arrive at the tech company’s warehouse in Coventry to begin a month-long voting process.

Union officials will visit the West Midlands site on Wednesday after the independent Central Arbitration Committee granted the GMB the right to hold the legally binding vote. Amazon had rejected a request for voluntary recognition.

If staff vote in favor of recognition, the GMB would have the right to represent them in negotiations over pay and conditions, marking the first time Amazon has recognized a union in the UK.

Starting Wednesday, more than 2,000 employees will be invited to a series of 45-minute meetings with union representatives (and separate meetings with the company) in which both sides will present their arguments.

Voting will be conducted at the workplace starting July 8 and the result will be announced after July 15.

Amanda Gearing, a senior GMB organizer, said: “Amazon is one of the most hostile and anti-union employers in the world. They are a multi-billion dollar global company investing enormous energy in resisting the efforts of Coventry’s working class to fight for a better life.

“But Coventry Amazon workers have rejected Amazon’s attempts to crush their union. Now the Amazon workers, not the bosses, will decide.”

Staff inside the huge warehouse had previously complained about what they considered anti-union tactics by Amazon, including QR codes displayed around the building which, when scanned, generated an email to GMB canceling union membership.

The vote marks the latest stage in a decade-long campaign by GMB to build a presence within the company. Coventry staff have been on strike for more than a year, demanding a wage of £15 an hour and a seat at the negotiating table.

They were joined on the Black Friday picket last November by unionists from Amazon companies in the United States and continental Europe.

If the union wins the recognition vote, it will echo the success of union members at an Amazon plant in New York who have fought for the right to unionize.

To secure recognition, the GMB will need to gain a majority of support in the elections. “Yes” voters must also represent at least 40% of workers at the site.

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The Labor Party has promised a plan to give unions more powers as part of a “new deal for workers” if it wins power in the July 4 general election.

Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Paul Nowak said: “This is a vital opportunity for Amazon workers to get better pay, conditions and an independent voice at work.

“Instead of valuing its workforce, the company has thrown in the sink by trying to prevent workers from organizing. “His anti-union behavior should have no place in modern Britain and shows why a new deal for workers is so necessary.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: “Our employees have the option of whether or not to join a union. They always have. At Amazon we greatly value having daily conversations and engagement with our employees. It is an important part of our work culture. We value that direct relationship and so do our employees.”

The spokesperson added that the minimum starting wage across the company had increased by 20% in two years to between £12.30 and £13 an hour.

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