By Arthur Townend
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Workers fight to win key vote in Coventry Amazon union recognition fight

Amazon has used dirty tactics to try and stop workers from winning union recognition
Issue 2913
Amazon workers protest in London in fight for union recognition

Amazon workers protest outside of Amazon headquarters in central London on Monday

Amazon workers in the GMB union began a historic voting process on Monday this week. At the Coventry depot, 3,000 workers are fighting for union recognition.

The results of the vote will be released early next week. If workers vote Yes, Amazon will be forced to recognise the union in Coventry.

This will be the first union Amazon recognises in Europe. Recognition means Amazon would have to negotiate on terms, pay and conditions for workers at the Coventry site.

Workers at Amazon face low pay and awful conditions. GMB reps at Coventry spoke to Socialist Worker. “We have done our best as a union and as workers inside, but of course we are against a massive corporate edifice,” said Adam.

“I do think that we will get union recognition.” Adam spoke about how Amazon has limited union organising.

One union rep was handing out information cards about the ballot, but Amazon management confiscated them. “Amazon keeps saying that the union is an outside organisation.

I had to tell them that this was false—the union is the workers, we are the union.” Rep Andy echoed this comment, saying Amazon has used a “mixture of fear and intimidation”.

“There has definitely been union-busting. We’ve attended meetings where they’ve urged us to vote No to recognition, and we’ve been subject to similar messaging on posters in toilets and on screens in the canteen.

“The entire process is designed with the employer in mind rather than the worker,” he added. If Coventry workers win recognition, Andy “hopes the dam would break and these unionisation efforts would spread”.

Adam wants Coventry to be a “beacon of hope”. “It would be great if this helps the Doncaster depot begin a union recognition process.

“It is going to be brilliant for other warehouses. They will see this can be done.”

On Monday this week, the GMB organised protests across Britain, including outside Amazon’s headquarters in London. Gary Smith, general secretary of the GMB, and Kate Bell, assistant general secretary of the TUC union federation, presented a petition to Amazon that demanded union recognition.

Over 30,000 Amazon workers and trade unionists had signed it. Bell highlighted the conditions faced by Amazon workers, “Sacking without warning, collapsing from over work, hundreds of ambulance call outs for workers. That’s the reality for Amazon’s workers. “

Andy Prendergast, GMB’s national secretary, said, “Amazon’s tactics are reprehensible. It’s hard to come to any conclusion other than this is a company built on exploitation.”

“We think this vote will send a message to Amazon workers that this is possible,” he told Socialist Worker. If Coventry wins union recognition it will be a victory. But the fight cannot stop there—workers must make it a fighting union.

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