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8 Feb 2024

Heather Stewart, The Guardian

Amazon faces accusations of union-busting tactics in UK warehouses

"Amazon accused of using ‘union-busting’ tactics at Midlands warehouses", 8 February 2024

The GMB has accused Amazon of resorting to “union-busting” tactics at its warehouses in the Midlands, with workplace message boards telling staff: “We want to speak with you. A union wants to speak for you.”

The claim comes as the union prepares to take three days of strike action next week at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse, known as BHX4, as part of an industrial dispute that has been going on for more than a year. Staff are demanding a pay increase to £15 an hour and the right to negotiate with the company over pay and conditions.

Gary Smith, the GMB’s general secretary, said: “Let’s call this what it is: one of the world’s wealthiest companies engaged in union-busting right here in the UK.”

GMB members in Coventry “are refusing to be beaten by Amazon’s union-busting and they will win the pay and recognition they deserve”, he added.

Kate Bell, assistant general secretary of the TUC, who visited the picket line in Coventry last year, said: “Instead of treating its workforce with the respect it deserves, Amazon is using every trick in the book to stop workers from organising for better pay and conditions.”

The GMB’s latest criticism of Amazon comes as it gears up for a fresh battle to achieve formal recognition in Coventry. The union withdrew an application to the independent Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) last year, accusing Amazon of drafting in at least 1,000 additional workers to ensure the GMB could not show it represented a clear majority of staff at the site.

The company denied that allegation, saying any new staff were brought in as a result of normal business requirements. With a concerted union recruitment drive continuing at the site, the GMB said it anticipated making a new application to the CAC this spring.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We respect our employees’ rights to join, or not to join, a union.”