Updated Apr 26, 2023, 7:18am EDT

Amazon’s UK workers — like US counterparts — near union recognition

Small toy shopping cart is seen in front of displayed Amazon logo in this illustration taken, July 30, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

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The News

Amazon might soon be forced to recognize its first U.K. trade union, months after workers at the firm’s Coventry warehouse staged their first strike.

The general trade union GMB, which has been supporting Amazon employees with their dispute, on Wednesday said that it had enrolled a majority of workers at the depot, meaning it should be recognized by law. GMB has asked Amazon for official recognition and the company now has 10 days to respond.

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Know More

If Amazon does not automatically recognize GMB, an arbitrator in the U.K. may step in, the BBC reports.

Unionization would mark a historic victory for GMB, which has been trying to organize Amazon workers in the U.K. for a decade.

Earlier this year, employees at the Coventry warehouse reported that their toilet breaks were timed, and that they were often questioned by management about any time spent idle on the warehouse floor.

GMB built on the momentum of 14 strike days and weeks of campaigning, a senior union official told Sky News. Meanwhile, five other Amazon depots in the U.K. are also poised for worker action, according to the union.

“Managers fast risk this becoming a summer of strike chaos for the company,” GMB organizer Amanda Gearing said.

A spokesperson for Amazon told the BBC that the company supports its workers’ right to opt into or out of unions.

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The View From the U.S.

Amazon employees in the U.S. were granted approval for their first union in January, when a labor board upheld a landmark union victory at a warehouse in New York. The firm has signaled it intends to appeal the decision.

Amazon, which faces widespread allegations of employee abuse and safety violations, has long resisted unionization efforts by its employees.

Chris Smalls, who started the union drive in New York, was fired by the company after beginning the workers’ rights push in 2020.


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