UK Amazon walkouts continue: Create rank-and-file committees

Amazon workers walked out on Monday during the night shift at the BRS2 fulfillment center in Swindon this week. A second walkout at the Tilbury site in Essex was planned by the Wednesday evening crew.

The ongoing wildcat strikes that began last week in warehouses across the country mark the coming into struggle of a critical contingent of British working class workers.

Amazon’s LCY2 warehouse in Tilbury, Essex [Photo: WSWS] [Photo: WSWS]

Amazon, one of the biggest companies in the world, is synonymous with rampant exploitation and profit. Its UK workforce has grown by 40,000 over the past three years, making it one of the largest private employers in the country with 75,000 employees.

Hundreds of workers walked out last Wednesday and Thursday, organized by word of mouth and WhatsApp groups, opposing a pitiful pay rise of 35 to 50 pence an hour: around 3 per cent as the RPI (consumer price) inflation is already at 11.8 percent and which according to the National Institute for Economic and Social Research think tank will rise to over 17 percent before the end of the year.

Walkouts took place at sites in Tilbury, Coventry, Rugeley, Bristol and Coalville. Since then, continued protests have taken place in Tilbury, Dartford, Belvedere, Hemel Hempstead and Chesterfield, where workers are processing just one parcel an hour.

These actions are the product of growing anger among Amazon workers over the brutal work pace demanded by the company and the de facto pay cuts caused by inflation making daily life impossible.

Tilbury workers told the World Socialist Web Site:“In fact, people were crying in the canteen and telling our managers that they couldn’t afford to pay their rent”, “We are not treated like workers but like slaves. We are often threatened here.”

Amazon and unions

After launching their fightback, Amazon workers are faced with how to take their fight forward.

The answer advanced by many pseudo-left groups and the unions themselves is that Amazon needs to be unionized.

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