A ballot of Amazon workers which could see the online retail giant forced to recognise a trade union in the UK for the first time, will begin at the company’s Coventry site today (19 June).

GMB union officials are to hold on-site meetings with the 3,000 workers as part of a process to decide if they want GMB union recognition.

Amazon staff can also attend meetings to hear the company’s counter argument. 

Ballot papers will be sent out on 3 July with workplace voting starting on 8 July, lasting for six days, with the result of the ballot announced on 15 July.

Under labour laws GMB needs 40% of them to vote in their favour, in order for the workforce to gain union representation..

If the ballot gets 40% or more workers’ votes in favour of union representation Amazon will have to negotiate with the union on terms, pay and conditions for workers for the first time at the site.

The process will be overseen by the government’s Central Arbitration Committee (CAC). The government body is responsible for regulating collective bargaining between workers and employers and ruled in favour of GMB’s application in April this year for a union recognition vote at the company’s Coventry warehouse.

After over a year of industrial action and 30 strike days, the CAC determined that, on the balance of probabilities, a majority of the workers would favour recognition of the union. 

Amanda Gearing, GMB senior organiser, praised Amazon workers for persisting in their fight for union representation. She said Amazon is ”a multi-billion-pound global company investing huge energy to resist efforts by working class people in Coventry to fight for a better life”.

This is the result of a long running dispute with Amazon on union recognition at the site, which has seen more than 30 days of strike action.

The union claims that Amazon has used a range of tactics to prevent union membership at the site, including workers being targeted with anti-union messages by company bosses and Amazon managers thwarting earlier attempts by workers to deliver union recognition by flooding the fulfilment centre with over a thousand new staff, in order to sidestep legal recognition thresholds.

Amazon said the company had raised its minimum starting pay to £12.30 and £13 per hour depending on location adding that employees have “always” the choice of whether or not to join a union.