Amazon, which has faced nationwide strikes across the United States, has now experienced its first-ever strike in the United Kingdom, at the tech giant’s warehouse in Coventry, England, where protestors said “robots are treated better” than human employees.
Hundreds of Amazon workers are on strike in the UK, with employees expressing their dismay over a below-inflation pay increase and tough working conditions — which include long hours, high injury rates, and aggressive, tech-enhanced monitoring of staff — CNBC News reports.
Employees were seen camping by a bonfire and waving union flags outside the Coventry warehouse on Wednesday morning. Protestors arrived with signs, one reading, “Fight for £15,” and another that said, “The wrong Amazon is burning.”
“We all saw the profits they’re making during the pandemic — that’s what angered people more,” Darren Westwood, an Amazon warehouse worker participating in the strike, told CNBC. “We were expecting a better increase than what they were imposing.”
“Someone the other day said we’re treated like robots — no, robots are treated better,” Westwood added.
An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC that the employees on strike represent “only a fraction of 1% of our UK employees.”
Inflation has skyrocketed in the UK due to increased energy costs and supply chain disturbances derived from the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
Wednesday’s strike in the UK comes as Amazon is laying off thousands of employees across the globe.
Earlier this month, the e-commerce giant revealed it would be laying off more than 18,000 employees in the coming months, the largest headcount reduction at a tech firm in the past year. The layoffs will impact about five percent of the company’s corporate workforce.
Additionally, Amazon has been facing scrutiny from its own employees for quite some time now.
In October, the tech giant faced walkouts and strikes during its “Prime Day” sale season, as the employees who handle the massive amount of packages that fly through the company’s facilities demanded better pay, fair treatment, and an end to retaliatory behavior.
In April, Amazon workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, voted to unionize. The decision, made by more than 2,500 workers, was a first for Amazon.