Amazon faces legal challenge over ‘anti-union drive’

Amazon is facing legal action after being accused of "coercing staff" into cancelling their trade union membership.

The legal challenge follows Amazon's rollout of QR codes in its fulfilment centres which generate an email to GMB's membership department requesting that a membership is cancelled.

The move comes days after GMB, which represents UK Amazon workers, won a formal recognition ballot at the company.

Union recognition would for the first time force Amazon to discuss matters including pay, hours and holidays with a trade union in Europe. It would also mark the first time this has been achieved anywhere in the world outside the US.

GMB has also accused Amazon of "forcing" workers to attend hour-long anti-union seminars, displaying anti-union messages across its workplaces, and "bullying and intimidating" union representatives.

“Our employees told us how difficult it was to cancel their union membership so we provided information to help, through signs that always state that it’s an employee’s personal choice," said an Amazon spokesperson.

Amazon also claims it has made it clear to employees that attendance at meetings is "entirely their choice".

The company says that it has received no notification of legal action from GMB or its employees.

“This is a company out of control," said Amanda Gearing, GMB senior organiser. “Amazon is a multi-billion-pound corporation, doing everything in its power to stop minimum wage workers from forming a union.

“Their latest American-style anti-union campaign proves they will stop at nothing to beat the rules that every other employer in the UK is expected to follow. It’s desperate measures and goes someway to show why Amazon workers as so determined to win the union recognition they deserve."

Earlier this month, workers at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse got closer to gaining union recognition after the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) ruled in favour of the GMB’s application for a vote.

The CAC, the government body responsible for regulating collective bargaining between workers and employers, said that following a year of industrial action it is likely that the majority of workers want recognition of GMB as its union.

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