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28.02.2024 / News / /

“The only option is to fight for your rights” Amazon warehouse cleaners fight cuts to their paid break


” As an ordinary person, I have the right to defend myself against their abuses. I feel that everything is for the convenience of the company, they don’t think about the workers at all.” Jessica, Amazon warehouse cleaner and UVW member

UVW members who clean Amazon warehouses in Enfield and Ipswich are preparing to ballot for strike action over attempts by their bosses to cut their paid breaks and bank holiday enhancements.

The cleaners, outsourced to Mitie, part of the FTSE 250 Index, come from Latin America, Romania and England are the lowest paid workers in Mitie and Amazon. Yet in 2023 Mitie boasted a revenue of over £4 billion after expanding into several industries and businesses in the public and private sector and Amazon’s revenue was in the hundreds of billions last year.

These cuts will only serve to impoverish the cleaners even further. Which is why our members, indignant that the wealthy companies are trying to save pennies off their backs, also demand a substantial pay increase to over £13 an hour and a full pay sick pay scheme.

“I come from a country that lives in fear every day because of many circumstances, but where every day everyone gets up to fight and move forward. I understand that the only option is to fight for your rights, to defend what you think and what is right for you and for others. In the same way that big companies defend their financial stability I, as an ordinary person have the right to defend myself against their abuses. I feel that everything is for the convenience of the company, they don’t think about the workers at all. We are not just a number, we are people who need to work but  have a home and we have a family. Our bosses should have more humanity.” said Jessica, an Amazon warehouse cleaner and UVW member.

Some of the cleaners have claimed they were pressured into agreeing to changes ahead of consultation meetings and before they were aware they could seek support and advice from UVW. In the consultation meeting that took place this month, Mitie offered no justification for the changes and instead suggested their intention to increase the hourly rate to 61p above the minimum wage as of 1 April would compensate them for the cuts in other areas. UVW argues this is evidently not the case as the loss of pay during breaks and the double time enhancement on bank holidays far outstrip the 61p increase.

“ It feels like my job could disappear at any moment if I don’t comply with what feels like a forcible change of contract. I am already on minimum pay, I know there is nothing I can do by myself. This is the first union that I have ever been a part of, it’s the first time I’ve felt like I’ve needed to be in a union and I’ve had many jobs before. This all came out of the blue, they didn’t mention changes, they didn’t negotiate or talk to us. I’ve never felt so anxious.” said Casey, an Amazon warehouse cleaner and first time union member.

The cleaners are also planning legal action in respect of breach of contract and TUPE regulations.

Join the UVW solidarity  network for more on how to support the Amazon warehouse cleaners! >>

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