An Amazon striker says “everyone stayed out” after bosses tried to intimidate them back to work.
Ben, who works at the BHX4 fulfilment centre in Coventry, is one of the hundreds of Amazon workers who’ve joined wildcat strikes at sites across Britain since Wednesday. “Yesterday was the main event,” he told Socialist Worker. “We had people on the day and night shift walk out.
“We had over 300 people that stopped working. We only planned to strike two hours before it actually happened. When we did, the managers said we wouldn’t get paid unless we returned to work. But everyone stayed and didn’t go back.
“Today we had around 30 to 40 people who went on strike and walked out and marched into town.”
Ben added that he and other workers were inspired by the action in Tilbury. On Wednesday workers in the fulfilment centre in Tilbury, Essex, stopped working after being offered a tiny pay increase of 35p an hour.
Videos on social media showed workers sitting in the canteen after downing tools. When a manager tried to persuade workers to get back to work, they responded with anger and made it clear they would not be going back.
A manager is heard on social media saying that it “wasn’t safe to be gathered in the canteen”. To this, workers shouted back, “We are fine.” Amazon bosses also withdrew catering services and threatened to sack workers if they left the premises.
Ben explained why Amazon workers in Coventry decided to strike. “We were told on Wednesday that we would only get a 50p pay rise,” he said. “Of course people have been complaining about bills going up, then they offer us just 50p.
“We worked through the pandemic and have made the company so much money. But in three years we’ve only received a 75p pay rise—including the 50p the bosses have just offered.”
Meanwhile, workers in the Rugeley Amazon warehouse in Staffordshire walked out on Wednesday after also being offered a pay increase of just 50p an hour. A worker at the warehouse told Staffordshire Lives, “Amazon Rugeley announced a 50p wage increase citing the local Rugeley pay rate average.
“The news didn’t sit well with the associates, and more than 100 people walked out in the canteen as a protest, which affected a lot of customer shipments. It’s an embarrassment of an announcement that comes as a mockery towards current employees.”
The bosses were worried about action spreading to a warehouse in Bristol. They posted a sign outside that read that there would be no more “distribution of literature.”
Poor pay and terrible conditions are pushing, often non-unionised workers, to organise themselves and take part in wildcat strikes and sit-ins. Around 100 workers at Cranswick Continental Foods in Pilsworth, Greater Manchester, launched a wildcat strike last Thursday.
All of these strikes show a new mood of anger—and resistance—in the working class as the cost of living crisis deepens. Socialists, trade unionists and campaigners should go down to their nearest fulfilment centre to send solidarity to Amazon workers.
Ben is a pseudonymOriginal post