Amazon will pay US employees $15 minimum wage, but what about international workers?
On November 1st, Amazon will begin paying a $15 minimum wage to all part-time and full-time US employees. This change will apply to all Amazon subsidiaries, such as Whole Foods.
“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Amazon’s founder and CEOJeff Bezos in a statement. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”
Amazon also stated that it will lobby for a higher federal minimum wage. The current federal minimum wage is $7.95. However, twenty-nine states have a higher state minimum wage.
Dave Clark, the company’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, told CNN’s Christine Romans. “We’ll leave it to Congress and professionals to decide what the right number is… But for us, that number is $15.”
Many credit labor unions and the Fight for $15 campaign have been pressuring large companies to pay their workers a living wage. Walmart, the largest private company, agreed to raise its minimum wage to $11 in early February, while Target raised its minimum wage to $11 this past September. Disney is working with worker unions to pay employees a $15 wage by 2021.
Amazon will also increase its minimum wage for UK employees on November 1st. The current UK minimum wage is £7.83. Amazon will pay £10.50 ($13.60) for London workers and £9.50 for other UK workers.
Earlier this year, UK Amazon workers protested against poor working conditions of their workplaces. According to journalist James Bloodworth, who went undercover at an Amazon warehouse in Staffordshire, UK, 74 percent of workers avoid going to the bathroom, fearing they won’t meet their target numbers for the month. 55 percent report “having suffered depression since working at Amazon.”
In an anonymous survey taken by Bloodworth, one worker stated, “From their point of view, we don’t have the right to be ill.”
While Amazon seems to be responding to the demands of worker unions, many are still criticizing its poor and exploitative working conditions globally.