Online retailing giant Amazon is raising pay for hundreds of thousands of workers in the US and the UK.
Amazon’s lowest paid US workers will receive $15 an hour. In the UK, pay will rise from £8.20 an hour in London to £10.50, while outside London the rate rises from £8 an hour to £9.50.
The move will benefit 250,000 workers in the US, 17,000 in the UK and tens of thousands of seasonal workers.
Amazon is one of the biggest companies in the world, worth about $1 trillion.
However, it has been attacked by campaigners – and US President Trump – for the amount of tax it pays.
The company has also been criticised for its employment practices, with complaints over working conditions in its warehouses.
Its founder, Jeff Bezos, is the world’s richest man, with a fortune estimated at some $150bn.
‘It’s a start’
The new pay rates start on 1 November, and will apply to all staff, full and part-time, as well as temporary and seasonal workers.
Tim Roache, the general secretary of the UK’s GMB union, welcomed the announcement but said more needed to be done: “Given their owner is the richest man in the world you’d think he could see fit to dig a little deeper, but it’s a start.
“Now they’re paying the living wage, maybe Amazon could pay their taxes too, and do something to improve the horrendous working conditions people endure in their warehouses. GMB has heard horrific tales from the shop floor. Nearly 90% of our Amazon members say they experience constant pain at work.”
The union said Amazon did not allow it to operate under its roof.
The increase in Amazon workers’ wages coincides with a cross-US movement by retail unions to raise wages to a minimum of $15 an hour, the so-called “Fight for Fifteen” movement.
Already rival retailers have had to raise their wages. Target increased its minimum hourly wage last year to $11, with a pledge to lift it to $15 an hour by the end of 2020.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer and private employer, also raised its minimum wage to $11 an hour earlier this year.
Amazon said it would press for a change to the US Federal minimum wage level, which is currently $7.25.
Amazon spokesman Jay Carney said: “We will be working to gain Congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The current rate of $7.25 was set nearly a decade ago.”
In the UK, the legal minimum wage is £7.83 an hour for over-25s and £7.38 for those aged 21 to 24.
The retailer also said it would phase out one of its share incentive schemes, adding that the “net effect of this change and the new higher cash compensation is significantly more total compensation for employees… and with more predictability”.