Amazon workers on verge of historic vote on union recognition

It would be the first time Amazon has recognised a trade union in UK history

21 Jun 2024| News

Workers at Amazon’s Coventry fulfilment centre have begun a ballot process for legally binding union rights vote.

GMB union has announced the ballot period for union recognition at Amazon UK has begun. More than 3,000 Amazon workers will now take part in a month-long process, which includes a vote at the retail giant’s Coventry fulfilment centre.

Officials from the union began visiting the West Midlands site on Wednesday after the GMB was granted the right to hold the legally binding ballot by the independent Central Arbitration Committee. Amazon had rejected a request for voluntary recognition.

The legally binding ballot, overseen by the Government’s Central Arbitration Committee, could force Amazon to recognise a trade union. Recognition would mean Amazon would have to negotiate with GMB on terms, pay and conditions for Amazon workers at the site.

It would be the first time Amazon has recognised a trade union in UK history.

The strike vote comes after the year-long dispute between GMB union members and Amazon, which has seen over thirty days of strike action. Amazon has been slammed in recent weeks for union-busting tactics in the lead up to the ballot and is already facing a legal challenge for pressuring workers into cancelling their union membership.

Workplace meetings on the ballot began on Wednesday 19th June, with voting commencing on Monday 8th July.

The result will be announced after Monday 15 July.

The ballot is the latest stage in a decade-long drive by the GMB to build up a presence inside the company. Staff in Coventry have been taking strike action for more than a year, demanding pay of £15 an hour and a seat at the negotiating table.

They were joined on the picket line on Black Friday last November by trade unionists from Amazon in the US and continental Europe.

Amanda Gearing, GMB Senior Organiser, said:

“This is an historic moment. Amazon is one of the world’s most hostile and anti-union employers. They’re a multi-billion-pound global company investing huge energy to resist efforts by working class people in Coventry to fight for a better life.

But right here Coventry Amazon workers have rejected Amazon’s attempts to smash their union. Instead, they’ve stood up to be counted and demanded the chance to vote on union recognition. Now Amazon workers, not the bosses, will decide”.