Freedom News

Migrant cleaners win union recognition in defiance of Amazon

Migrant cleaners for the DBR1 Amazon warehouse in Dartford – who are outsourced to Phosters (FM) Limited, a Worcestershire-based facilities management company –  will be the first workers on an Amazon site to win union recognition in the UK. 

This historic decision came after the workers, who joined eight other workplaces, began balloting for strike action and forced their employer under threat of a strike ballot to agree to negotiate a voluntary recognition deal with their union, United Voices of the World (UVW). These Amazon cleaners join UVW’s co-ordinated and simultaneous balloting of cleaners, carers and concierge workers in nine workplaces in and around London.

While recognition talks signal progress in the dispute, the Amazon cleaners also demand a pay rise to an hourly wage of no less than £11.95, and are resolute in their plans to go ahead with strike action if their demands are not met. Currently the cleaners receive only the national minimum wage which is lower than warehouse operatives.

In 2021 Amazon had a turnover of £372 billion and Phosters parent company, a turnover of £56 million, with a profit of £156 billion and £2.7 million, respectively. 

“We all know that companies like Amazon make billions and use companies like Phosters to avoid giving cleaners the already meagre terms and conditions as their in-house workers. Amazon shareholders and Phosters directors – whose pay increased by 55% in 2021 – all benefit financially from this arrangement while the cleaners who keep their lucrative operations running 24/7 struggle to get by on poverty wages. It is of no surprise that Phosters have shifted the blame for the cleaners’ miserly wages onto the global delivery giant Amazon. This strike is a strike against Amazon and Phosters.”

Petros Elia, UVW general secretary

Mass balloting of workers from at least nine different workplaces across London and the South East is taking place this May as members join the current strike wave across private and public sectors. Workplaces include Amazon warehouses, Mercedes showrooms, London School of Economics, a prestigious south London private school and a state school, Sage Nursing home and luxury flats and Department of Education. 

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