Hundreds of Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) workers in the U.K. staged their first-ever strike. This was in protest to what they described as a “derisory” salary increase offered by the tech giant.
Around 300 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Coventry participated in the labor action. This was after more than 98% of the employees voted in favor of the strike in December.
In response, Amazon told Bloomberg in a statement that it is “proud” of the wages it gives to its workers, saying that it has pay packages, which start at a minimum of £10.50 to £11.45 per hour ($1.231 per hour). This is higher than the U.K.’s national living wage for adults aged 23 and above, set to increase to £10.42 from £9.50 in April.
The strike coincides with a moderation in customer demand following a pandemic-induced boom. This has led Amazon to announce job cuts and scrap plans to open new warehouse sites.
The GMB Union, which organized the strike, noted that the salary increase offered by Amazon was too low for workers to keep up with living costs.
The action marks a significant shift in the labor movement in the U.K. and could lead to further labor actions should the dispute resolve in favor of the workers.
Amazon’s stance suggests that it is determined to protect its wages, which are higher than the set national living wage. It though remains to be seen how the dispute will play out.