But the union's success overcoming this bureaucracy in Coventry has piqued the interest of Amazon workers around the world, who are trying to organize a global movement to challenge the company. As Amazon’s third largest market (after the US and Germany), unions consider the UK as a critical cog in the mission to internationalize the company’s workers movement. “I know they’re watching,” says Westwood, adding he has received messages of support from France and Germany.
Workers in those countries know they are more likely to force Amazon to the negotiating table if unions in multiple countries can strike at once. “Amazon is an international company and they react to strikes in one country by relying on fulfillment centers in another,” says André Scheer, secretary at German union Verdi. When Amazon workers strike in Germany, customers’ packages filter into the country from next door Poland or the Czech Republic instead.
The Coventry strike takes place the same week that Amazon workers from Germany, Poland, Canada, the US, France and Spain convened in Geneva to plan further protests. Unions now are looking to build on the success of coordinated Black Friday protests against Amazon in November, which rippled through more than 30 countries from Costa Rica to Luxembourg, according to UNI Global, an international union involved in the #MakeAmazonPay campaign.
The Coventry strike is not the first time UK Amazon workers have publicly complained about pay and working conditions. In August, employees at warehouses across the country held unofficial protests in warehouse canteens. But compared to other countries, the UK organizing efforts have had a slow start. Amazon workers in central Germany have been striking on and off for a decade, while a Staten Island warehouse became the first US site to unionize in April 2022.
Employees in the Coventry warehouse right now receive around &po...