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Amazon UK staff plan more strikes as they reject pay rise as an ‘insult’

<span>Photograph: Niall Carson/PA</span>
Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Amazon workers in the UK are planning further strike action as they dismissed as “an insult” a 50p an hour increase to its minimum hourly pay for warehouse workers to £11.

The company said the pay rise announced on Wednesday, which will be implemented this weekend, meant minimum pay had risen by 10% in the past seven months, putting it ahead of the legal minimum wage for those aged 23 or over, which will be £10.42 an hour from April.

However, Amanda Gearing, a senior organiser for the GMB union, which has backed workers at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse in the first ever strikes by its UK workers, said: “We’re listening to Amazon workers and the message is very clear: this new pay rate is an insult.

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“So, in response we will be consulting over the next few days and announcing a new wave of action.”

Darren Westwood, an Amazon worker, said: “Nobody believes that the extra 50p an hour we’ve won at Coventry is remotely enough to live on.

“We know we’re worth more – that’s why we will be stepping up the action and appealing to workers in other Amazon sites to join us in the strikes.”

Amazon, which has more than 30 warehouses in the UK, said: “We regularly review our pay to ensure we offer competitive wages, and we’re pleased to be announcing another increase for our UK operations teams.”

It said workers’ pay had risen by 37% since 2018 and it also “worked hard to provide great benefits, a positive work environment and excellent career opportunities”.

Employees, including seasonal and part-time staff, also received a one-off payment of up to £500 at Christmas.

Amazon increased pay by about 50p an hour in August last year, but the unexpectedly low increase prompted workers at its Coventry fulfilment centre to go on strike for eight days since January, including five days last week.

The workers became the first ever employees of the online retailer in the UK to take strike action on 25 January. They asked for higher pay and have also complained of overbearing management practices and long hours.

The GMB union now has more than 500 members at the Coventry site – up from a few dozen last year.

A number of supermarkets and other retailers have raised pay to more than £11 an hour amid a battle for workers across the UK.

Aldi announced its fourth pay rise in just over a year last week, promising £11.40 an hour from July, meaning that from next month Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Aldi will all pay £11 an hour or more.

However, there are also signs of a slowdown at Amazon, which in January revealed plans to shut three UK warehouses and seven delivery stations, affecting more than 1,300 jobs.

Globally, the group has announced plans to cut 27,000 jobs in areas such as physical retail, advertising, live streaming and cloud services.