UK Amazon workers in Coventry are going on strike. Here’s how we are supporting.
This Wednesday, 25 January, Amazon employees at a warehouse in Coventry are going on strike. It will be the first-ever strike in a UK Amazon warehouse.
Foxglove will be there at the picket lines too, in pink safety bibs. At the request of the local GMB trade union, Foxglove lawyers and staff will act as “observers” – making sure workers’ right to strike, and to picket, is respected.
We are also raising money for the workers’ strike fund. You can show your solidarity and support by chipping in here.
The Amazon workers are going on strike because they’ve got no choice. Amazon, one of the richest corporations in the world, offered its warehouse staff in Coventry an insulting 50p per hour pay rise. This is well below the rate of inflation, I.e. a real-terms pay cut in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.
Foxglove exists to challenge abuses by Big Tech corporations like Amazon (and Facebook, Palantir, and the rest). Right now, these tech companies abuse their power to harm their workers, and their users, all while piling up massive profits. A key way we can change this and make tech benefit everyone rather than just a tiny elite, is through workers fighting back.
That’s why we’re supporting social media content moderators, including Facebook whistleblower, Daniel Motaung, who was fired for trying to start a union in Kenya. And that’s why we’re supporting the workers in Coventry, and the GMB union, as they fight for fair pay and decent conditions for Amazon warehouse and delivery staff in the UK.
If you use Twitter, you can follow live updates on the strike on Wednesday, from both Foxglove and the local GMB trade union. If you want to learn more about our work with Amazon workers over the past year, you can check out our other articles below.
One Amazon worker in Coventry, called Darren, who will be striking on Wednesday, described how the pay offer felt like “a smack in the teeth…it made us feel so unappreciated”. He also described being a first aider in the warehouse and repeatedly seeing other workers fainting because of the long, gruelling shifts.
Darren was hinting at the horrifying pressure cooker environment that Amazon creates in its warehouses, in its ruthless drive to squeeze efficiency from its staff. Every second of every working day, an Amazon warehouse worker is spied on, assessed, and optimised by Amazon’s opaque algorithmic productivity systems.
From our investigations in multiple warehouses, we also believe Amazon may be engaging in a humiliating practice, called ‘rank and yank,’ that turns this job into the Hunger Games. “Rank and yank” means that instead of working to a clear target, you’re essentially graded on a curve. If you fall behind – because you’re sick, or older, for example, for long enough, you may lose your job.
We believe Amazon’s constant surveillance and algorithmic control of workers may be breaking the law, and so we are gearing up for a potential legal action. We hope to have more to say about that soon.