England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Defiant Coventry rally marks one year of struggle against Amazon

By Socialist Alternative members in Coventry

One year ago, workers at Amazon in the UK walked out in protest against an insulting pay ‘rise’. Bosses would have hoped that this was a flash in the pan that would soon die out. What has transpired since has been a truly courageous and inspiring struggle, with workers at the BHX4 site in Coventry taking the first ever official industrial action at an Amazon facility in the UK in January of this year. 

The struggle spreads

Over 20 days of strikes have taken place since January, while the movement for £15 per hour and unionisation has taken a big step forward with the site at Rugeley in Staffordshire also joining the fray, taking their first action on 3 and 4 August. 

This totemic struggle contains many lessons for the entire labour movement. Not least that struggle for clear demands encourages people to join the union. Beginning with a few dozen members, the GMB now has over 1,000 in the Coventry facility alone. 

Leading activists at the Coventry site wanted to mark the one year anniversary of the beginning of the fight with a rally outside BHX4. The call went far and wide, with trade unionists travelling from London, Manchester, East Anglia and other parts of the country to show support. 

Mass picketing gets results

The pickets during the strike have been enormous – sometimes reaching 4-500 workers. Amazon tried to counter this, erecting huge fences around the site and the roads approaching the entrance in an effort to deter the workers. This had no impact, with further big pickets. And a victory was scored on the day of the one year anniversary rally with Amazon sending workers home at 3pm on full pay and telling the night shift workers not to come in. 

Despite the poor weather, hundreds attended the rally, hearing speakers from different unions and campaigns, including PCS, GMB, RCN and NHS Workers Say No, local trade unionists and Amazon workers from Coventry and Rugeley. At the rally itself there was also the presence of members of Acorn (renters organisation) UNISON, UCU, RMT, Unite, NEU and many other activists. 

Solidarity from across the movement, here and internationally

As an example of how inspiring the struggle has been, a solidarity message from Kevin Corran, Assistant Branch Secretary of Greater Manchester Mental Health UNISON branch and a member of UNISON’s National Executive Council, sums up the feeling of many trade unionists:

“Over the last 12 months, our trade union branch has been supporting and following your dispute, particularly in Coventry. We have found the action by your members to be inspirational. During this Cost of Living Crisis, workers have had to get organised and use the most powerful weapon we have, strike action, to struggle for a decent life for ourselves, our families and our communities. We hope the national rally goes well, and it gives your members the confidence and encouragement to continue their struggle.”


It is not just trade unionists here that have been inspired. Workers from the unionisation drive at the Amazon Airhub in Northern Kentucky in the US (KCVG) sent a video message conveying their solidarity. 


Support also came in from Kshama Sawant, elected representative for Socialist Alternative on Seattle City Council who wrote:

“As the socialist city councilmember in Seattle – home to Amazon’s headquarters – I send my utmost support to striking Amazon workers in Coventry and Rugeley. The strike is the most important tool for working-class fightback.

Three years ago, Socialist Alternative and my office led the victorious movement to win the Amazon Tax, a nearly $300 million per year tax on Amazon and the city’s richest corporations to fund affordable housing. We won despite the strenuous opposition of billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Seattle’s Democratic Party politicians.

Right now in Kentucky, workers at Amazon’s largest air hub in the world, called KCVG, are fighting to unionize. This is the most important union drive taking place in the US right now. We must join together across continents to take on the Amazon bosses everywhere. 

Good luck on your strikes this weekend. Solidarity from Socialist Alternative and the American working class!”

Seattle socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant

Continue the fight!

The Saturday rally was a further confidence boost for this pioneering group of workers. They have stood up to one of the world’s richest men and his big business empire. Now the full weight of the entire movement must mobilise and get behind them, to turn this heroic struggle into a historic victory that will go down as one of the most courageous battles to have been waged against exploitation and oppression in the workplace.



Socialist Alternative members attended the rally and distributed a leaflet that included the text below

One year of inspiring Amazon strikes: Escalate and spread to win!


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