England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Lively Black Friday protest at Amazon BHX4 in Coventry

Amazon workers at the BHX4 warehouse were joined by supporters from across the area in a lively protest on ‘Black Friday’ in Coventry. Called by the GMB, the rally was supported by activists from many different unions including UNISON, Unite, Coventry TUC and many more. The union is campaigning for a decent pay rise and the right for workers to be able to access the GMB. 

Socialist Alternative distributed a leaflet regarding the struggle at Amazon: see below. 

Solidarity with Amazon workers! Escalate and spread the movement to unionise, fight for higher pay and decent conditions!

The battle for decent pay at Amazon’s BHX4 facility is a vital struggle for workers in Coventry, across the UK and throughout Amazon’s global network. A victory would send shockwaves through this multinational corporation, headed up by Jeff Bezos, one of the richest people in the world. 

Strike action would have already begun but for the anti democratic, anti trade union laws and restrictions introduced by the Tories with the vote falling just three short of the threshold. Workers are fed up with being treated like animals when the company is making so much in profit – profit created by the hard graft of employees on the shop floor. 

Unions organising in Amazon must link up and should be backed up by the whole trade union movement.

The various unions (including GMB, Unite and BFAWU) who are organising at different Amazon facilities should coordinate their efforts to win union recognition, mobilising around concrete demands like for a £15 per hour wage and improvements to terms and conditions. Any hint of ‘partnership’ with the employer should be rejected. 

The rest of the trade union movement can play a massive role in building solidarity through mobilising members elsewhere in the supply chains, supporting strike funds and helping to publicise unionisation efforts. 

Lessons from the United States

Recent months have seen a titanic battle develop between Amazon and their workforce. There have been historic steps forward (JFK8 warehouse) and also some defeats (ALB1) in the battle to unionise and it’s critical that lessons from the struggle in the US are discussed across the movement. Amazon are determined to fight against unionisation – for example paying ‘consultants’ $3200 to walk the shop floor and spread anti union propaganda. This must be countered strongly by organising the potential power of Amazon’s exploited workforce. 

In a highly significant development, workers at Cincinnati and North Kentucky Air Hub (known as KCVG) are fighting for $30 per hour, increased breaks/leave, and the right to union representation. The Organising Committee of Unionize Amazon KCVG are active on the shopfloor, organising democratically to discuss their campaign and using militant methods to win support. This points to the way forward. 

Bezos and Amazon defeated in Seattle – let’s defeat them here as well!

Jeff Bezos and his cronies have been beaten before. They have tried to get rid of Kshama Sawant of Socialist Alternative, city councilmember in Seattle who has fought for pro-worker policies including supporting unionisation and winning the Amazon Tax, which brought in $214 million from big business, and won because a movement was successfully mobilised against undemocratic manoeuvers from the bosses. 

Amazon should be forced to pay more tax, but we also need to fight for nationalisation, bringing it into public ownership as part of the struggle to break with capitalism. As Kshama said in her solidarity message to Amazon workers:

“Capitalism is a global system, and can only be countered by workers uniting in international solidarity. It is especially important that we build this fightback right now as the ruling class, the billionaires, get ready to put the burden of the economic crisis, the crisis in their system, the unprecedented inflation, on the shoulders of working people on all continents.”


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