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Amazon Black Friday strike: Workers in Coventry to walk out as part of international action against retailer | Business News

Amazon workers in the UK are to go on strike today to coincide with Black Friday – one of the company’s busiest shopping days of the year.

More than 1,000 staff at the firm’s warehouse in Coventry are expected to take part in the walkout, the GMB union said, amid a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

The online retail giant has insisted customers will not be affected by the industrial action.

A protest will also be held outside Amazon UK’s head office in London, while coordinated strikes and demonstrations will be held in other European countries and the US as well.

Unions say it will be the biggest day of industrial action in Amazon’s history.

The company recently announced it would be increasing the minimum starting pay to up to £13 an hour for staff, depending on location, from next April.

But the GMB has called for a rate of at least £15 an hour, and better conditions, as staff struggle with the cost of living crisis.

GMB official Amanda Gearing, said: “Today will go down as a turning point in Amazon’s history. Working people who make Amazon’s business model possible stand up to demand their share of the company’s enormous wealth.

“Despite that, Amazon bosses are desperate to claim it will be business as usual for Amazon and their customers this Black Friday.”

Ms Gearing added: “The truth is that today will see the largest day of industrial disruption in Amazon’s history.

“With industrial action escalating and workers joining strike action in Europe and the USA, it’s clear this strike is inspiring Amazon workers worldwide to fight to force the company to change its ways.”

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Sky’s report from January on Amazon workers staging their first UK strike

An Amazon spokesperson said: “There will be no disruption to customers.

“We regularly review our pay to ensure we offer competitive wages and benefits.

“By April 2024, our minimum starting pay will have increased to £12.30 and £13 per hour depending on location, that’s a 20% increase over two years and 50% since 2018.”

They added: “We also work hard to provide great benefits, a positive work environment and excellent career opportunities.

“These are just some of the reasons people want to come and work at Amazon, whether it’s their first job, a seasonal role or an opportunity for them to advance their career.”

It marks the 28th day of strike action to hit Amazon in the UK since the start of the year.

A Very Royal Scandal: Michael Sheen to play Prince Andrew in Amazon series about Newsnight interview | Ents & Arts News

Welsh actor Michael Sheen will star as Prince Andrew in a series based on the explosive Newsnight interview.

Sheen is well known for his convincing portrayals of real people – having played former prime minister Tony Blair, the journalist David Frost and the football manager Brian Clough.

Ruth Wilson will take on the role of Emily Maitlis, the journalist who grilled the Duke of York over his relationship with late billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in November 2019.

The three-part Amazon Studios series will be called A Very Royal Scandal.

The studio has said it will follow Maitlis’s “professional and personal journey as a Newsnight journalist leading up to her acclaimed interview with Prince Andrew”.

The show is in production in the UK.

Duke of York speaking about his links to Jeffrey Epstein in an interview with BBC Newsnight's Emily Maitlis
Emily Maitlis interviews Prince Andrew on Newsnight

Ruth Wilson will play Emily Maitlis. Pic: AP
Ruth Wilson will play Emily Maitlis. Pic: AP

Maitlis, who left Newsnight to host The News Agents podcast with former BBC journalists Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall, is an executive producer on the production.

The 53-year-old broadcaster wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “Blimey. First time I’ve seen this in print. What an exceptional cast.”

The series is written by The Last King Of Scotland writer Jeremy Brock and directed by Becoming Jane’s Julian Jarrold.

The cast also includes Joanna Scanlan as Prince Andrew’s ex-private secretary Amanda Thirsk, Alex Jennings as the late Queen’s private secretary Sir Edward Young, and Eanna Hardwicke as BBC Newsnight editor Stewart Maclean.

Read more:
Prince Andrew interview branded ‘disastrous’ and ‘excruciating’
Just 6% believe Prince Andrew’s over Epstein

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Prince Andrew on Newsnight: ‘My honour coloured my judgement’

A Very Royal Scandal is produced by Blueprint Television for Amazon Studios, with Karen Thrussell, Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, Diarmuid McKeown, Mr Brock and Mr Jarrold as executive producers, and Josh Hyams serving as a producer on the series.

Maitlis has already been an executive producer of a Channel 4 documentary about the interview called Andrew: The Problem Prince.

A Netflix film adaptation of the interview is also in the works called Scoop.

In that version, Maitlis is played by Sex Education star Gillian Anderson while The Man In The High Castle actor Rufus Sewell appears as Andrew.

The Netflix adaption is based on former Newsnight producer Sam McAlister’s memoir Scoops: The BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews From Prince Andrew To Steven Seagal.

Amazon workers in Coventry set to strike for four days over Black Friday | UK News

Amazon workers in the UK are set to stage fresh strikes coinciding with Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

More than 1,000 workers at the company’s Coventry site are set to walk out over pay from 7 November until 9 November as well as on Black Friday – 24 November.

The day symbolises the first shopping day in the build-up to the Christmas or holiday season, where many shops offer highly discounted prices and extend opening hours.

The strike announcement comes a day after Amazon offered a pay rise for staff of at least £1 an hour, which will kick in from 15 October.

The move means the minimum starting pay for frontline employees will rise to between £11.80 and £12.50 an hour, depending on location.

People take part in a rally in support of Amazon workers' on strike
Amazon’s Coventry warehouse

Pay is expected to increase further next April to between £12.30 and £13 an hour, depending on location.

Despite this, the GMB union said the four-day strike will be the biggest in Amazon’s history, with the potential of causing “widespread disruption to customers and the public”.

They are calling for at least £15 an hour to help with the cost of living crisis.

Rachel Fagan, GMB organiser, said: “This is an unprecedented and historic moment with low paid workers taking on one of the world’s most powerful corporations.

“This is our members’ response to the failure of Amazon bosses to listen.”

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She said Coventry is the “beating heart” of Amazon’s distribution network and the strike will “ripple throughout the company’s UK logistics”.

Amazon employees’ concerns over pay have been a long-running dispute, with staff in Coventry first walking out in January – the first time the corporation faced industrial action in the UK.

One employee at the time, Darren Westwood, said he had grown fed up with pay and working conditions – where workers are on their feet all day sorting through goods to send to other warehouses.

The company previously said the Coventry warehouse does not directly serve customer orders, so industrial action will cause no disruption to customers.

UK meat industry and supermarkets including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons ‘causing illegal deforestation in the Amazon’ | World News

The UK meat industry and the supermarkets it supplies are continuing to cause illegal deforestation in the Amazon, according to a new investigation into the supply chain of Brazilian soya beans used to feed British livestock.

Clearing land for cattle and soya beans is a key driver of deforestation in the Amazon.

In 2022 nearly 12,000 square kilometres of the Amazon were destroyed, equivalent to four football fields of forest lost every second.

But joining the dots between the destruction and consumers thousands of miles away is obscured by the complex supply chains that make up our global food industry.

The investigation by environmental groups Mighty Earth, Reporter Brazil and Ecostorm combines satellite data with observations on the ground showing evidence of a direct link between illegal deforestation in the Amazon and supplies of soya beans shipped from Brazil to the UK by US commodities giant Cargill.

“If Cargill, the biggest privately-owned US company, wants to be part of the solution to the climate and nature crisis, it needs to source from suppliers farming on previously degraded land, of which there are 1.6 billion acres in Latin America, alone. Not from those who are still torching forests,” said Glenn Hurowitz, CEO of Mighty Earth.

The report identifies the Santa Ana farm in Brazil’s Mato Grosso state on which 400 hectares of forest were burned last year – an area the researchers estimate would have contained 220,000 trees.

The farm supplies soya to Cargill, which exports the beans via Brazil’s Santarem port to locations around the world, including directly to the UK.

Following an investigation by Brazilian authorities into previous illegal deforestation on the farm, Cargill removed it from the list of its approved suppliers, however it was reinstated by the company in 2022.

Around 70% of the UK’s soya is imported by Cargill and 75% of Cargill’s soya comes into the country from Santarem port in Brazil.

Soya is a key ingredient in animal feed, particularly for intensively farmed chickens and pigs. Once soya is shipped to feed mills, tracing that which may be linked to illegal deforestation becomes almost impossible.

However, one of the UK producers with the greatest exposure to the Brazilian soya is Avara foods – the UK’s largest chicken producer, which is part-owned by Cargill and is directly supplied with feed by them.

Read more:
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Avara produces 4.5 million chickens and turkeys a week in the UK.

Avara supplies many leading supermarkets and suppliers including Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, McDonald’s, KFC and Nando’s.

This latest report singles out Tesco as the UK’s largest supermarket chain whose own-brand chicken is supplied by Avara.

“Our investigation shows Tesco is a basket of problems for the Amazon,” said Gemma Hoskins, UK director at Mighty Earth.

“While the UK’s top retailer reaps massive profits, it continues to do business with known forest destroyers such as Cargill, adding fuel to the fire of Amazon deforestation, harming the health of local communities, and decimating wildlife and precious habitats.”

UK food retailers like Tesco are signatories to the UK Soy Manifesto which committed them to ensure their supply chains were “deforestation- and conversion-free” by 2020, with a further commitment to stop sourcing from suppliers linked to deforestation or land conversion by 2025.

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Destruction of the Amazon rainforest

In a statement, Tesco told Sky News: “We take any accusation of deforestation and conversion occurring anywhere within our supply chain extremely seriously and we immediately asked Cargill for clarification on the matter and to remove the identified farm from their supply chain until a full investigation can be carried out.”

Chicken producer Avara said that is has sourced soya certified as “deforestation and conversion-free” since 2019.

“Clearly, the challenge is that there are still non-certified farms growing soya in high risk areas and a demand for their produce,” it said in a statement.

It added: “We accept that, for all our progress, there is still work to do if we are to achieve our 2025 goal. We will play our part, working collaboratively with others in the sector and beyond, but we also know that this will not be enough, if others do not also make similar commitments.”

Cargill, which has previously faced criticism for sourcing soya from areas linked to deforestation in the Amazon and other parts of South America, said: “Based on new allegations, in accordance with our grievance process we have initiated an additional investigation of [Santa Ana Farm’s] 2022 operations and if we find any violations of our policies and commitments, the supplier will be immediately blocked from our supply chain, as expressed in our Supplier Code of Conduct.”

Amazon workers vote to strike at a UK depot for the first time | Business News

Amazon workers at a UK depot have voted to strike for the first time.

Employees at the warehouse in Coventry will walk out in the new year over what the GMB union said was a pay offer increase of 50p an hour.

It comes after more than 98% of workers voted to strike on a turnout of more than 63%, adding to the number of British employees walking out this winter.

Union boss blasts ‘completely inadequate’ pay offer – latest strikes updates

GMB senior organiser Amanda Gearing said the workers had “made history”, as they would become the first UK Amazon warehouse staff ever to take part in a formal strike.

“The fact that they are being forced to go on strike to win a decent rate of pay from one of the world’s most valuable companies should be a badge of shame for Amazon,” she added.

“Amazon can afford to do better. It’s not too late to avoid strike action; get round the table with GMB to improve the pay and conditions of workers.”

The vote was announced on another day of strikes disruption across the UK, with railway staff walking out again, alongside bus and highways workers.

It comes after striking nurses took part in the first NHS-wide walkout on Thursday.

Read more:
All you need to know about the UK’s winter of strikes

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What is industrial action?

An Amazon spokesperson insisted the company offered “competitive pay”.

“We appreciate the great work our teams do throughout the year, and we’re proud to offer competitive pay which starts at a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour, depending on location,” they said.

“This represents a 29% increase in the minimum hourly wage paid to Amazon employees since 2018.

“Employees are also offered comprehensive benefits that are worth thousands more-including private medical insurance, life assurance, subsidised meals and an employee discount, to name a few.

“On top of this, we’re pleased to have announced that full-time, part-time and seasonal frontline employees will receive an additional one-time special payment of up to £500 as an extra thank you.”

Amazon is one of the most valuable companies in the world, with a market cap of $880bn (£723.1bn).

But like many big tech firms, it has announced plans to lay off thousands of employees amid lacklustre growth forecasts across much of the industry.