By Sophie Squire
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Amazon workers campaign to spread the strikes

Amazon bosses are worried about strikes spreading
Issue 2858
Amazon strikes. Workers with GMB orange jackets and flags campaigning in Swansea

Workers from other sites, and from the US, campaigned in Swansea last week to spread the Amazon strikes (Picture: @GMBWSW on Twitter)

Striking Amazon workers in Coventry are pushing and encouraging others working for the global giant to join them in action to win on pay conditions. 

Amazon worker and GMB union member Nick told Socialist Worker he has travelled to speak to workers at fulfilment centres such as Rugeley in Staffordshire, and Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, where workers are currently balloting for strikes.

He has also been to sites where workers aren’t balloting yet such as Swansea. Workers who have been organising a union in the United States have also been in Britain and came to join the campaign in Swansea.

“People in other centres are getting closer to striking,” he said. “When you talk to workers, they’ve heard about our strike in Coventry. They’ve been following the news. 

“They’re waiting to see what happens at Coventry, but we try and make the argument we’ll be stronger if we strike together. If workers at other fulfilment centres strike, I think it’s vital for workers from Coventry to be there with them on the picket lines. 

“If we went out on strike together we’d get what we want,” Nick added. 

“Say, for example, we got workers at multiple fulfilment centres to come out around Christmas—when Amazon makes tens of millions of pounds daily. We’d shut down production and really hit them. 

“People wouldn’t get their presents. The bosses couldn’t ignore us after that.”

And Nick said he thinks Amazon bosses are terrified of the strikes spreading. “Every six months at Amazon, the managers hold an all-hands meeting. Before the meeting, you can write a question, and the bosses will decide if they want it to be discussed. 

“We’ve found out that in other fulfilment centres, the managers have ensured that our strike in Coventry isn’t discussed,” he added. 

Workers at Amazon in Coventry struck for two days last week and have been on strike for a total of 16 days. 

Nick said that when workers come back from striking, they find ways to show they are still angry with the bosses. “Many of us work as slowly as possible. We feel that if the bosses continue to treat us like this, we won’t put in 100 percent effort anymore.”

Nick said that there are lessons in militancy from the battles in Coventry that are important for other sites.  “We need to show the way, show them how important it is to talk to people, block the roads and sign people up to the union on the picket lines. 

“When we started in January, only about 100 people were on the picket in Coventry. Six months later, we have recruited 760 members to the GMB union, and the pickets are much bigger. 

“We have to say it’s important that workers should work towards recruiting the 51 percent of the workforce needed to get union recognition, but they don’t have to wait for it to take action,” he added. 

  • Chris Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union in the US, is one of the speakers at the Marxism Festival that is coming later this month. For details go here

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