Amazon’s Coventry workers vote in historic union ballot

Amazon workers at the Coventry warehouse have begun voting in a landmark trade union recognition ballot, potentially granting them collective bargaining rights over pay and conditions for the first time in the UK. More than 3,000 employees at the West Midlands hub are participating in the vote, which culminates on Saturday.

This ballot follows a protracted conflict between Amazon and trade unions over workers’ rights. The independent Central Arbitration Committee authorised the legally binding ballot after a campaign by the GMB union, which is overseeing the vote. Amazon had previously denied a request for voluntary recognition.

Should the employees vote in favour, the GMB union will be authorised to negotiate on behalf of the workers, marking the first instance of union recognition by Amazon in the UK. The results are expected next week.

GMB national secretary Andy Prendergast highlighted the workers’ motivations, stating, “They want the same fair pay and safe conditions any of us would demand. GMB members face shocking levels of intimidation, fear and abuse at the hands of bosses for daring to fight.”

Protests are scheduled at Amazon warehouses nationwide as voting begins, including locations in Warrington, Dunfermline, Swansea, and Tilbury. A separate rally at Amazon’s London headquarters will feature Kate Bell, assistant general secretary of the TUC.

The recognition of GMB in Coventry would signify a major victory after years of union campaigning over pay and working conditions across Amazon’s UK warehouses. Despite union membership at several other sites, Coventry’s workforce is the largest involved in this effort.

Coventry staff have engaged in multiple strikes over the past year, demanding £15 an hour and a role in negotiations. Workers have reported anti-union tactics by Amazon, such as QR codes around the facility generating emails to cancel union membership.

This vote occurs during the first full week of the Labour government, which has promised to enhance workers’ rights. Labour’s campaign included commitments to make union organisation easier within workplaces, part of a “new deal for working people” led by Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner. Unions are urging rapid legislative action to ensure these promises are upheld.

An Amazon spokesperson highlighted pay increases since 2018 and maintained that employees have always had the choice to join a union. “Our employees have the choice of whether or not to join a union. They always have. We regularly review our pay to ensure we offer competitive wages and benefits,” they stated.

Read more:
Amazon’s Coventry workers vote in historic union ballot