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AMAZON’S overdue delivery of a pay rise for thousands of staff is proof of the value of joining a trade union, Jeremy Corbyn declared today.
The online delivery giant, which has been plagued by reports of shocking treatment of staff at its warehouses, announced a rise in its minimum pay rate to £9.50 an hour (£10.50 in London) for 17,000 direct employees and a further 20,000 seasonal workers, including those hired by agencies, effective on November 1.
Amazon vice-president and British manager Doug Gurr said the firm was “excited” about the announcement, but Mr Corbyn and the GMB union, which organises many of its staff, said the corporation has a long way to go.
“Amazon didn’t gift this,” the Labour leader tweeted. “Workers organised for it.
“The fight goes on to improve working conditions and get this company to pay its fair share of taxes. Join a union today: tuc.org.uk/join-union.”
GMB, which organised protests last month outside Amazon’s Rugeley warehouse against the horrific working conditions there, said the pay rise was “a start,” but the firm could afford more.
General secretary Tim Roache said: “I’m glad Amazon has heeded GMB union’s longstanding calls to pay people, at the very least, the minimum they need to live, though, given their owner [Jeff Bezos] is the richest man in the world, you’d think he could see fit to dig a little deeper.”
Over the summer, left-wing US Democrat Bernie Sanders launched a petition calling on Mr Bezos to pay a living wage to employees, pointing out that his $275 million (£213m) daily income means he pockets more money in 10 seconds than the average Amazon employee earns in a whole year.
“Maybe Amazon could pay their taxes too and do something to improve the horrendous working conditions people endure in their warehouses,” Mr Roache said.
“GMB has heard horrific tales from the shop floor — of a woman in late pregnancy having to stand for a 10-hour shift, hundreds of ambulance call-outs to Amazon warehouses and nearly 90 per cent of our Amazon members saying they experience constant pain at work.”
He also called on Amazon to end a ban on union representatives entering its premises.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said Amazon should recognise unions and end “exploitative working practices” that led to 600 ambulances visiting its warehouses in the last three years.
Strikes organised by BFAWU members last year forced the largest pay rise in McDonald’s restaurants’ history in Britain, while industrial action at Wetherspoon is thought to have prompted the pub chain bringing forward a pay rise to November.
McDonald’s, TGI Friday’s and Wetherspoon workers will take joint strike action at various sites across Britain tomorrow and Deliveroo and UberEats drivers organised by GMB, the IWGB and IWW will also strike in many areas.
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