- Amazon workers at several UK warehouses across have been holding protests over pay this week.
- Insider spoke to three who say they are treated “like slaves” and struggling due to high inflation.
- One warehouse worker was suspended on Friday and blamed the move on a decision to protest.
Hundreds of workers at some of Amazon’s UK warehouses have been holding protests after being told they are getting a pay rise of just 35p (42 cents) an hour despite soaring inflation.
The retail giant’s decision sparked walkouts and protests at its warehouses in Tilbury, Bristol, Coventry and Dartford in England.
The GMB union said protests had spread to other depots, The Guardian reported.
Insider spoke to three employees at its Tilbury warehouse in Essex, east of London.
One warehouse operative, 31, said: “Managers treat staff like slaves. It’s stressful, I can’t sleep or eat properly.”
Last week managers told staff that they would need to wait until October for a pay rise, but they found out on Thursday that they were increasing the hourly rate by 35p (42 cents) an hour.
“An increase of 35p is insulting because of our hard work. They can’t operate without us,” she said.
She works 10-hour night shifts for an hourly rate of £11.10 ($13.40), which Insider has verified. The rise takes her pay to £11.45 ($13.82) an hour.
She says she has to pick “very heavy” items with a maximum weight of 15 kilos per package. “Per night shift I pick around 4,000 items and they push us to do more and for them it’s still not enough,” she said.
Workers at Tilbury told the company it had seven days to increase pay by at least £3 ($3.62) an hour and would strike on August 11 if their demand was not met.
A second warehouse operative at Tilbury, said: “I’m not afraid. If I have to, I will speak to Jeff Bezos himself. If I feel pressured from management then I’d rather leave, than work like a slave.”
“Working conditions are horrible. We are always working under pressure and being pushed to reach targets,” she said.
She said the 35p pay increase made her feel “horrible” because soaring inflation meant the cost of living had jumped.
One warehouse worker at Tilbury was suspended with pay on Friday, documents obtained by Insider show, over alleged “potential misconduct”, including “violence, intimidation or abusive behavior or language”.
The worker, who spoke to Insider on the condition of anonymity over concerns about her job, said her manager told her that she had been talking to other workers about the protest in the canteen. “We want unity and it doesn’t mean we can’t tell anyone to protest,” she said.
A spokesperson for Amazon said: “Starting pay for Amazon employees will be increasing to a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45 p/h, depending on location. This is for all full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary roles in the UK.”
They added: “In addition to this competitive pay, employees are offered a comprehensive benefits package that includes private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection, subsidized meals and an employee discount among others, which combined are worth thousands annually, as well as a company pension plan.”
Editor’s note (August 7, 2022): Two of the sources quoted in this story first spoke to Insider on the record. After its publication, the employees asked to remain anonymous — citing a fear of retribution.