It’s been a year since workers at the BHX4 Amazon fulfilment centre in Coventry walked out on a wildcat strike. It was a brilliant show of workers’ ability to hit back against ruthless and powerful bosses.
Important action has followed with official strikes called by the GMB union. They have seen mass recruitment to the union, solid picketing and immense enthusiasm for resistance.
Coventry workers were set to strike on Friday and Saturday this week.
But now, one of the original leaders of the strike that began on 5 August last year says workers need to take back control of this dispute from union leaders to win.
Striker, Darren Westwood, told Socialist Worker that while it’s been a year of impressive action at the Coventry warehouse, workers can’t stand alone anymore.
“A lot has changed since we met in the canteen after being offered a tiny pay rise in 2022. Back then, only 20 people joined a protest and walked out. Now we have recruited over 1,000 people.
“Some of us want the Amazon strikes to go nationwide, but those at the top of the GMB union just don’t seem that bothered.
“They like that they can say they unionised the first Amazon site, and they are OK to stop at that.
“But this fight is about more. Workers want their £15 an hour—at least. We want to make enough money to survive.
“It’s great that workers at another site—Rugeley— workers are set to be striking this week on Thursday and Friday. But that is a warehouse Amazon says it will close down soon. Who knows whether action will carry on after that happens.
“Recently a fellow striker went up to a fulfilment centre in Manchester, and the workers there told him they want to come out too, so the feeling is there.
“And there seem to be other warehouses that would be good to get organised.
“The site in Milton Keynes has about 98 union members in a workplace of about 200. It wouldn’t take much to get union recognition, yet it’s not a priority to the GMB.
“A few of us have said we will go to other fulfilment centres nationwide. We will do that whether the union likes it or not.”
On Saturday of this week workers are holding a mass rally outside the warehouse. Darren said the union needed to be faster to support it.
“They didn’t like that the initiative it hadn’t come from them,” Darren said. “But they saw the rank and file supported it and so had to go along with it.
“The union has been calling Zoom meetings at 3 pm, which of course, anyone who works at Amazon will struggle to attend. It’s frustrating.
“We must take back ownership of these strikes. We were the ones who walked out last year. We continued despite the first strike ballot not meeting the anti-union laws, and workers have been the ones who make our picket lines militant.
“Spreading the action is the only way to take on a giant like Amazon.”
Join the Amazon strike rally, Saturday 5 August, 5.30pm, BHX, Lyon Park, Sayer Drive, Coventry CV5Original post