Amazon workers at the retailer’s Coventry warehouse have moved one step closer to gaining the right to union representation, the GMB union has announced.

The government body responsible for regulating collective bargaining between workers and employers, known as the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), has ruled in favour of GMB’s application for a union recognition vote at the company’s Coventry warehouse.

After over a year of industrial action and thirty strike days, the CAC determined that, on the balance of probabilities, a majority of the workers would favour recognition of the union. This paves the way for a legally binding vote of Amazon Coventry’s workforce.

Union recognition would mean Amazon would be forced to sit down with GMB on matters relating to pay, hours, and holidays; the first time this has been achieved anywhere in the world outside of the USA.

The union claimed this week that Amazon has in the past deployed 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.

The CAC will now appoint an independent organisation to arrange a legally binding vote of workers, with a ballot timetable likely to be announced in the coming weeks.

Amanda Gearing, GMB senior organiser, said: “From day one of GMB’s fight for union rights at Amazon it has been a modern-day David and Goliath battle.

“One year on this is a truly historic moment as workers stand up against the company’s relentless anti-union propaganda.

“Workers have won against the odds and will now be given a legally binding say on forming Europe’s first recognised union at Amazon.

“Amazon bosses have been sent a clear and unapologetic message from their own workers that they refuse poverty pay and unsafe working condition; they demand dignity at work and a union to represent them”.

Rosa Curling, director of Foxglove Legal, said: “Amazon is going to pull every dirty trick in the book to keep unions out of their UK warehouses – but the Coventry workers have history on their side.

“This is a huge moment for GMB, and Amazon workers in Coventry who worked for years to earn this historic vote. Foxglove is proud to stand behind them to beat back Bezos’ union-busting – and we’ll be with them every step of the way.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: ”“Our employees have the choice of whether or not to join a union. They always have. We regularly review our pay to ensure we offer competitive wages and benefits.

”Our minimum starting pay has increased to £12.30 and £13 per hour depending on location, that’s a 20% increase over two years and 50% since 2018. We also work hard to provide great benefits, a positive work environment and excellent career opportunities.

”These are just some of the reasons people want to come and work at Amazon, whether it’s their first job, a seasonal role or an opportunity for them to advance their career.”