Amazon ‘not concerned’ about wave of unionizing, touts competitive pay

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Amazon workers hold GMB union placards on the picket line as they hold a strike outside the Amazon fulfillment centre on January 25, 2023 in Coventry, England.

Christopher Furlong | Getty Images

LONDON — A top Amazon executive told CNBC the company is “not concerned” about a wave of unionizing globally because the e-commerce giant has competitive pay and benefits.

The comments come amid high-profile efforts in the U.S. and U.K. from Amazon warehouse workers to form unions.

Stefano Perego, vice president of customer fulfilment and global ops services for North America and Europe at Amazon, said the company’s pay and benefits are attractive.

“As long as we offer competitive pay invaluable benefits, we don’t think that our people will choose to be represented, but this is their choice,” Perego told CNBC in an interview on Tuesday.

There appears to be a rising push for unionization among Amazon workers.

Workers at an Amazon site in Coventry, a city in the U.K. staged the first formal industrial action in the country in January. The workers are unhappy about the wage increases they have received which they say are not enough. The employees have demanded formal union recognition which would give them the ability to collectively bargain with the Amazon over wages.

And last year a group of workers in New York’s Staten Island became the first group to vote in favor of unionizing at a U.S. facility run by Amazon. Amazon has resisted unionization efforts in the U.S.

The efforts from unions have so far failed to galvanize a wave of unionization globally as many had hoped.

Perego said Amazon is not worried about the rise of unions.

“No, I’m not concerned because again, [it] is a choice our people has to make, and we know that we are very competitive,” Perego said.

‘Out of touch’

The GMB union, which represents the Amazon workers in the U.K., called Perego “out of touch.”

“Mr Perego is clearly completely out of touch with his workforce if he thinks Amazon doesn’t need to negotiate with GMB. It’s one of the wealthiest companies in the world, yet the pay is paltry, not competitive,” Amanda Gearing, GMB senior organizer, told CNBC via email.

“Amazon workers don’t want ‘invaluable benefits’ – they want enough cash in their pockets to keep a roof over their heads and feed their families,” Gearing added.

“Workers in Coventry – and across the world – are rising up and recognising their own worth. It’s time Amazon bosses listened to them.” 

Safety track record improving

The Amazon executive said the company has 220,000 employees in Europe and there are “very few situations where there is a union between us and our workforce.”

Another gripe with Amazon workers in warehouses is around safety.

Perego said the company has been improving its track record in this area. He said that the recordable injury rate in Amazon facilities has fallen more than 24% since 2019. Amazon plans to spend $550 million globally on safety in 2023.

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