It is one year since workers walked out to say enough of low pay and being treated like robots, whilst Jeff Bezos increases his obscene wealth off the back of Amazon workers. The strike action has been groundbreaking and inspiring for workers everywhere who face a severe cost of living crisis.
Workers have shown that barriers such as intimidation and Tory anti-trade union laws can be smashed through. The huge increase in union membership is a lesson for the union movement. If unions take action, workers will join. The Amazon pickets have been enormous and this has instilled confidence in workers in other sectors fighting their own battles.
The fight is growing – now it must be escalated further
The news that Rugeley became the second facility to take strike action is a huge step forward. But we can’t stop there. We need to involve more Amazon workplaces in the action, building towards a coordinated nationwide stoppage. The GMB alongside other unions should use their full resources to step up the union drive in other facilities and involve striking workers in building worker- led Amazon unions.
Expanding the union into more facilities will help to pre- empt the employer’s threats of closing down facilities and breaking the strike through using other centres. And given the international nature of Amazon’s Empire, workers across different countries need to link up to bring work to a halt.
The role of the trade union movement
Union branches have so far donated tens of thousands of pounds which is brilliant. But this should be stepped up. The Trade Union Congress and all individual unions, including GMB, have enormous funds. They should be fully mobilising their resources to ensure practical support for the Amazon workers in building the biggest strike fund to date. Activists from across the sector and wider need to come together to plan for the coordinated strike action that will be necessary to win.
Solidarity with Amazon workers at KCVG Air Hub in the United States
It is not just in Coventry where things are heating up. A titanic battle is currently taking place at the Northern Kentucky Air Hub (an enormous Amazon airport vital for the whole profit making operation) where members of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) are fighting for $30 per hour, increased breaks/leave, workplace translation (many workers are not native English speakers) and full union recognition.
KCVG workers have formed an Organising Committee made up of active shop floor workers to democratically discuss and agree the way forward for their campaign. These are methods which could be taken up here to further strengthen the struggle.
Amazon and Bezos can be defeated!
Amazon has paid hardly any tax in the UK, and they should be forced to pay more, as they were in Seattle following a mass campaign led by Socialist Alternative Councilmember Kshama Sawant.
Linked to this, we need to fight for public ownership of Amazon and the enormous companies and banks that dominate our society. Capitalism as a system rests on the exploitation of working class people and the planet. We need to unite together as workers across borders to fight for socialist change, so production is for need, not profit.