Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Business

Workers fighting for union recognition face ‘intimidation’ — Amazon worker speaks out

Amazon hired 1300 new associates ahead of normal operational needs, to dilute the proportion of GMB members.

Amazon is ramping up the use of drones and robotics to more efficiently deliver online orders
Amazon is ramping up the use of drones and robotics to more efficiently deliver online orders — © AFP Patrick T. Fallon
Amazon is ramping up the use of drones and robotics to more efficiently deliver online orders — © AFP Patrick T. Fallon

Big companies buying their way out of union recognition should be banned, according to a motion passed at the Congress of the GMB trade union in the UK.

At GMB’s annual congress in Bournemouth, as the BBC reports, the union voted overwhelmingly to support an overhaul of the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC)’s statutory recognition process. The CAC is the Government body which oversees worker’s attempts to get their union recognised by employers.

Part of the motion reads:

This Congress believes that the GMB dispute and recognition campaign at the companies BHX4 warehouse in Coventry has exposed the fact that the current legal procedure for union recognition is broken beyond repair.

We believe that the provision for union recognition if a majority of the workforce joins a union has been shown to be so full of loopholes that in practice it does not exist. It cannot be right that a company can create thousands of bogus jobs to flood a workplace with non-union members in order to block statutory recognition but that is exactly what Amazon were allowed to do last year under the procedures presided over by the toothless Central Arbitration Committee.”

This was driven by an attempt to gain more support for Amazon workers in Coventry who have been fighting for union rights for nearly two years. If the union succeeds, it would mean the company will have to negotiate with the union on terms, pay and conditions for workers at the site.

Workers at the Amazon facility are poised to start a vote on whether to force their employer to recognise GMB.

Commenting on the campaign for recognition, Ceferina Floresca, an Amazon worker, says in a statement sent to Digital Journal: “The situation at Amazon Coventry stands as a stark indictment of the inherent weaknesses woven into the fabric of our statutory recognition scheme.”

US e-commerce giant Amazon's investment could create up to 3,000 jobs, said the Elysee
US e-commerce giant Amazon’s investment could create up to 3,000 jobs, said the Elysee – Copyright AFP SEBASTIEN BOZON

Expressing her frustration, Floresca adds: “It is abundantly clear that the scales of justice are tipped in favour of employers. Granting them advantages at the expense of workers’ rights and dignity.”

Floresca moves on to discuss some of the tactics deployed by the U.S.-based mega-company: “When we first fought for statutory recognition in 2023, Amazon hired 1300 new associates ahead of normal operational needs, to dilute the proportion of GMB members, which forced us to withdraw our application.”

According to The Guardian the company has tried other tactics: “Staff inside the vast warehouse have previously complained of what they saw as anti-union tactics by Amazon, including QR codes displayed around the building which, when scanned, generated an email to the GMB cancelling union membership.”

There are other measures being deployed by the executives at the firm, according to Floresca: “At present, while awaiting the date for the ballot for recognition we are being subjected to a daily so-called information meetings, which we call brainwashing sessions, as its only purpose is to convince and encourage workers to vote against GMB recognition.”

This creates a situation of poor working relationships, which Floresca  expresses as: “The atmosphere of intimidation and coercion is very strong, and associates are scared and confused.”

The campaign has drawn support from the Trade Union Congress (TUC), where Paul Nowak, the General Secretary has launched a petition and said: “This is a David vs Goliath fight, but I know that we can win. For too long, Amazon has treated us like robots without a voice. It’s time for us to make history and force Amazon to recognise a union in the UK for the very first time.”

Meanwhile the situation continues to develop.

Avatar photo
Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

You may also like:

Life

On an improvised pitch in war-ravaged Gaza, a young player and goalkeeper block out the boisterous crowd and focus solely on the football as...

Sports

Nathan Adrian. Photo Courtesy of Ralph LaurenOlympian Nathan Adrian chatted about the Olympic Games, Olympic Trials, health, fatherhood, and he remembered the late Olympic...

World

The nuclear-armed North has sent thousands of balloons carrying bags of trash southwards since May, in a tit-for-tat propaganda war.

Life

Toxic "forever chemicals" are increasingly being used in US pesticides, threatening human health.