GMB members in Coventry restarted strikes, convincing more to join the union, Richard Milner reports
Rachel Fagan, GMB Organiser said, “Today more than 1,000 GMB members at Amazon will down tools and take to the picket line in the first day of strike leading to Black Friday.”
They are due out again on “Black Friday”—24 November. The GMB predicts that this will be part of an international day of strikes at Amazon warehouses across the world.
Last week’s strikes were the first in Coventry since 5 August
when a solidarity rally and strike forced Amazon to shut down the site. The picket lines continue to be well-attended and enthusiastic.
Fagan continued “Now we’re seeing industrial action snowballing with workers launching a new strike vote at Amazon Birmingham. With a winter of strike chaos looming, it’s time for Amazon bosses to urgently listen to their workers.”
On the picket lines
strikers successfully argued for others to stop and join the union. They recruited tens of new GMB members over the three strike days.
But despite the continued enthusiasm on the picket lines, this massive “pause” in the strike action of over three months was criticised by nearly every picket.
“It lost us momentum,” said Linda.
“No one knew why it was happening or exactly what was happening. We were just told to ‘trust’ the decision,” said her friend Marian.
Meanwhile no further strike dates beyond 24 November have yet been announced for Coventry. It’s welcome that the GMB is holding a strike ballot at Amazon’s new £500 million flagship Birmingham fulfilment centre in Sutton Coldfield.
The GMB regional organiser covering the Doncaster super hub fulfilment centre attended the picket line. He declared that he was inspired by the Coventry workers and promised to replicate the tactics and action at Doncaster Amazon.
Though this broadening of the strikes is many months later than it should have happened, GMB members now need to organise to hold this official to his words. Rank and file Amazon workers also leafletted the Swindon Amazon centre on the day of the strikes.
Members of Coventry Socialist Workers Party branch circulated a leaflet criticising the delay, urging support for the strikes but calling for more hard-hitting ones. It also highlighted that the GMB had sanctioned 22 days of strikes for the Net-a-Porter warehouse workers, and something like this was needed for Coventry.
Key activists agreed with our leaflet. As James said, “Your leaflet captures the feelings of many of us.” Rank and file activists need to organise together to agree a strike strategy between themselves and then push this with the union.
All the names of those strikers who are quoted have been changed.