Amazon raises its staff’s wages

Amazon raises its staff’s wages

After years of harsh criticism over both their employment standards and rates of pay, Amazon have stated that they will be raising the minimum wage for their employees in both the UK and the US from November 1st onwards.

Amazon staff in the United States will receive at least $15 an hour. UK staff will receive £10.50 an hour in London and £9.50 everywhere else in the country.  This will appease the “Fight for Fifteen” campaigners who are demanding that the US minimum wage is increased across the board to $15 an hour.

This increase will affect 40,000 permanent and temporary staff along with seasonal workers.

What prompted the raise?

Analysts believes that there are many reasons behind Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, choosing to raise the minimum wage of his employees. One of the most pressing was the previously mentioned “Fight for Fifteen” campaign. The movement has criticised Bezos’ company many times and they are continually calling for workers to take action for better pay.

Additionally, the company has been coming under heavy fire in general over the past few years for their supposed poor treatment of workers and low paying roles. The word “Amazon” has become synonymous with substandard employment practices.

Political reaction

In the US, Bernie Sanders said that it was a good move and that Amazon are now helping lead the way for higher wages across the country. He also urged other large corporations to follow suit.

Meanwhile in the UK, leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, said that trade union pressure had prompted this change, adding: “The fight goes on to improve working conditions and get this company to pay its fair share of taxes.”

The General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress, Frances O’Grady, said that raising the minimum wage is only the start and it should not be viewed as an act of generosity.

Pay and conditions

It was previously reported that many workers in Amazon’s warehouses were severely unhappy with the working conditions that they were expected to endure. Specifically, there was a claim made by a national newspaper that many workers were forced to urinate in plastic bottles in order to meet productivity targets.

Before the pay rise, Amazon workers in the UK could expect to be paid £8 an hour for their work - over the National Living Wage for over 25s by 17p an hour. Many opponents of raising the minimum wage argue that those who work in unskilled toles for Amazon are already earning more than the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage levels and that going on strike would harm the company.

The public’s perception of Amazon

Although many argue that Amazon has low employee welfare standards, it does not seem to affect their sales figures in the slightest. This is especially true during the festive season. Last year, Jeff Bezos’ fortune raised by a jaw dropping $65 billion, making him comfortably the richest man in the world.