Amazon Workers in UK Strike: They Claim Robots are Treated Better than Them

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Amazon Workers in UK Strike: They Claim Robots are Treated Better than Them

In a historic move, Amazon workers in the United Kingdom will stage their first strike against the retail giant on Wednesday, December 22nd. The action, led by members of the GMB union, is a protest against wages that they deem inadequate.

The workers are walking out of an Amazon warehouse in Coventry, specifically objecting to a derisory 50p-an-hour pay rise.

Workers Speak Out Against Harsh Working Conditions

In an interview with the BBC, two Amazon workers, who are members of the GMB, shared their experiences of working in the warehouse.

Darren Westwood and Garfield Hilton described the conditions as harsh, with workers constantly under surveillance and reprimanded for "inactivity" lasting just a few minutes. "The thing with stopping work is that they want to know why," said Mr Hilton.

"So if the time is beyond a couple of minutes they can see it on the system."

Robots Treated Better Than Workers

The workers also made a striking claim that robots in the warehouse are treated better than them. "They will then question you, 'what were you doing?' So when there's problems with a pallet or a box, that time will accrue," said Mr Westwood. "Technically it could add up to 30 minutes.

[The managers] will come down and say, 'during today, you've had 34 minutes of idle time. What were you doing?" He said Amazon wants "every minute in that building to be maximised". "You have to look at it this way, if the box with the product is not moving, you're not making money.

This is Amazon. If there's a problem with a box, it's a loss-maker. If the box leaves a building it is making money." In response to the strike, Amazon stated that only a "tiny proportion" of its workforce is involved in the industrial action, and that "only a fraction of 1%" of its UK employees voted in the ballot, which included those who voted against industrial action.

The company also highlighted that it has a system that "recognizes excellent performance." However, the striking workers' claims of harsh working conditions and unfair treatment paint a different picture.

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