On the picket line at the Amazon BHX4 warehouse in Coventry (Picture: Darren Westwood/Twitter)

Picket lines swelled to almost 600 people outside the Amazon warehouse in Coventry on Wednesday. The GMB union members began a three-day walkout on Tuesday—to hit the multinational’s busiest days, known as “Prime Day”.

Strikers marched down the street near the fulfilment centre in large numbers, chanting, “What do we want— £15. When do we want it—now.” 

Amazon striker Darren tweeted a call for other workers to take to the picket lines in the fight for higher pay. “We turn up. We grow in size. We make noise,” he said. “This is how we do it. Never be ashamed to be on a picket line. You are not greedy or the cause of inflation. It’s because you need help, just like us.” 

Local activist Patricia Chamberlain told Socialist Worker, “The picket lines were really active on Wednesday, with workers trying to convince drivers not to cross the pickets. Because of this, there were long queues of cars and lorries waiting.

“The police weren’t happy with this and stood in front of workers who were picketing and tried to direct the traffic onwards. They tried to use ‘road rage’ as an excuse for doing this.”

She added, “A GMB union official told me that by 7:15, they had already recruited 30 more people to the union.”

Wednesday and Thursday mark two of the busiest days for Amazon, when the corporation marks items down in the hope of selling as many as quickly as possible. The days leading up to and after Prime Day are some of the busiest for those working in fulfilment centres.

To ensure that workers put even more pressure on Amazon bosses, the union has to spread and escalate the strikes.

Workers at the Rugeley fulfilment centre in Staffordshire were waiting to hear the result of their ballot on Friday. This is the same warehouse that Amazon bosses have threatened to close to try and stop strikes spreading. 

It’s not only Amazon workers in Britain who are fighting back. Verdi union members at nine fulfilment centres in Germany began strikes last month for an extra £2.16 an hour—and continued their action this week.

At the DHH1 fulfilment centre in Hamburg, activists said managers were panicked by solid picket lines and decided to close the gates on Wednesday. 

And at the HAM2 warehouse in Winten, there were over 200 workers on the picket lines on Sunday to coincide with Germany’s Prime Day. 

Meanwhile, US Amazon drivers struck this week to demand protections for workers in extreme heat and for better pay. The Teamsters union members picketed seven warehouses in four states across the US. 

Amazon driver Raj Singh told Grist newspaper, “Sometimes it reaches 135 degrees in the rear of the truck, and there’s no cooling system,” 

“It feels like an oven when you step back there. You instantly start feeling woozy, and it’s gotten to the point where I’ve actually seen stars.”

“Amazon sets a ridiculous pace. Some people even have to miss their guaranteed 15-minute breaks because if we break the pace, they contact us to try and find out why we’re behind.”

Amazon workers worldwide are an inspiration to the workers’ movement, showing it’s possible to take on the might of the multinationals. 

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