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Amazon Coventry Workers Vote In Historic Union Ballot

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Workers at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse have started voting in a landmark trade union recognition ballot.

It could enable the online giant's UK employees to collectively bargain for rights and pay for the first time.

Over 3,000 workers at the West Midlands hub are participating in the vote, which concludes on Saturday, July 13. 

This marks a significant chapter in the ongoing struggle over workers’ rights between trade unions and the American corporation.

The independent Central Arbitration Committee granted workers the right to hold this legally binding ballot following a campaign by the GMB union, which is overseeing the vote. 

Amazon had previously rejected a request for voluntary recognition.

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Should the workers vote in favour of recognition, the GMB union would gain the authority to represent them in negotiations concerning pay and conditions. 

"GMB members face shocking levels of intimidation, fear and abuse at the hands of bosses for daring to fight"

This would be the first instance of Amazon recognising a union in the UK. 

The results are expected next week.

Andy Prendergast, the GMB national secretary, said workers had “come together because of the poverty pay and unsafe conditions Amazon has thrust upon them”.

He added: “They want the same fair pay and safe conditions any of us would demand. GMB members face shocking levels of intimidation, fear and abuse at the hands of bosses for daring to fight.

“Amazon has had every chance to do the right thing; now workers are taking things into their own hands to make work better.”

Protests are scheduled at Amazon warehouses across the UK as voting begins, including Warrington, Dunfermline, Swansea, and Tilbury sites. 

Additionally, Kate Bell, assistant general secretary of the TUC, will attend a rally outside the retailer's London headquarters.

GMB’s recognition in Coventry would be a milestone following years of campaigning by trade unions over pay and conditions for workers in Amazon’s UK warehouses.

While other locations have union members, the West Midlands site has the most significant number.

Coventry staff have engaged in a series of strike actions for over a year, demanding £15 an hour and a place at the negotiation table. 

Workers have reported anti-union tactics by the company, such as QR codes around the building that, when scanned, sent an email canceling GMB union membership.

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This vote in Coventry coincides with the first full week of a Labour government after Keir Starmer’s party, which campaigned to enhance workers’ rights, won the general election. 

Labour has promised to legislate within the first 100 days to introduce a “new deal for working people,” led by Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner. 

However, unions are concerned that business lobbying might dilute these plans and advocate for swift action.

An Amazon spokesperson said starting pay has increased by 50 percent since 2018 to £12.30 or £13 an hour, depending on location.

They added: “Our employees have the choice of whether or not to join a union. 

“They always have. We regularly review our pay to ensure we offer competitive wages and benefits.”

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