Amazon packages move on a conveyer belt at a fulfillment center in England.
Nathan Stirk | Getty Images
Amazon is planning to hike pay for its operations workers in the U.K. and add 15,000 new staff ahead of the holidays, as the e-commerce giant prepares itself for a wave of demand ahead of Christmas.
The company said Monday that it would increase base pay for its frontline operations workers, who pick, pack, store and ship items in its warehouses, to between £11.80 ($14.39) and £12.50 per hour, depending on location.
The pay increase extends to part-time, temporary and seasonal roles, as well as full-time positions, and will come into effect from Oct. 15.
By April 2024, Amazon said the company will be increasing pay further for its workers to between £12.30 and £13 per hour, depending on their location.
Meanwhile, more than 15,000 additional seasonal workers will be hired at Amazon sites across the U.K., the company said.
Amazon said the move represents a £170 million investment from the online retail giant in pay.
Amazon also says this means that minimum starting pay in its U.K. operations will have increased by 20% in two years, or 50% since 2018.
“We have some of the most talented colleagues around, and we’re proud to offer them competitive wages and benefits, as well as fantastic opportunities for career development, all in a safe and modern work environment,” said John Boumphrey, Amazon’s U.K. country manager.
“These are just some of the reasons people want to work at Amazon – whether it’s their first job, a seasonal role or an opportunity for them to advance their career.”
In a response to the move Monday, the GMB Union said the development would bring “little comfort” to Amazon workers facing poverty pay, unsafe working conditions and workplace surveillance.
“Amazon has spent millions fighting their own workers over union rights and fair pay,” Rachel Fagan, a GMB organizer, said in a statement Monday.
“GMB members have forced a pay rise from one of the world’s most powerful corporations – but Amazon can and must do better.”
A rising push for unionization
Amazon is seeking to appease workers at its core warehouse operations, who have been protesting over what they describe as meager levels of pay and poor working conditions.
In January, workers at Amazon’s Coventry fullfilment centers coordinated the first-ever legally-mandated walkout at the company in the U.K.
In coordination with GMB Union, they also submitted a bid to become a legally recognized union, which would have marked a first for the company in the U.K.
The move also comes amid a rising push for unionization among Amazon workers.
Workers at an Amazon site in Coventry, a city in the U.K., staged the first formal industrial action in the country in January. The workers are unhappy about the wage increases they have received which they say are not enough.
The employees have demanded formal union recognition which would give them the ability to collectively bargain with the Amazon over wages.
Earlier this year, however, the Amazon workers pushing for union recognition were dealt a blow in their bid to unionize when an independent arbitration committee sided with Amazon in determining that the workers lacked the required support to achieve union status.
Meanwhile, stateside, a group of workers in New York’s Staten Island became the first group to vote in favor of unionizing at a U.S. facility run by Amazon. Amazon has resisted unionization efforts in the U.S.
The efforts from unions have so far failed to galvanize a wave of unionization globally as many had hoped.
It follows a similar step from Amazon to boost hiring by 250,000 in the U.S. in preparation for the wave of additional demand over the holiday shopping season. The retail giant typically staffs up around the peak holiday shopping season, bringing on hordes of temporary workers so it can better keep up with demand.