- Amazon on Tuesday announced plans to raise the company’s minimum wage in the US to $US15.
- CEO Jeff Bezos said the company had “listened to our critics.”
- The decision follows sustained pressure from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has attacked Amazon and Bezos over the company’s low wages.
Amazon has announced plans to raise the company’s minimum wage in the US to $US15, following sustained pressure from Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders.
In a statement released Tuesday, Amazon said the salary increase, to more than double the federal minimum wage of $US7.25, would take effect on November 1.
Amazon said the change would affect more than 250,000 full- and part-time employees plus more than 100,000 seasonal staff members who work for Amazon over the holiday season.
“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” CEO Jeff Bezos said. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”
Amazon did not expand on who these critics were, but the company is distancing itself from the suggestion that the salary rise is in response to Sanders’ pressure.
Jay Carney, the senior vice president of Amazon’s global corporate affairs, added: “We will be working to gain congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The current rate of $US7.25 was set nearly a decade ago.
“We intend to advocate for a minimum wage increase that will have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country.”
Sanders has attacked Amazon for the amount it pays its workers and introduced a bill in September called the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act, or Stop Bezos Act, which would tax large companies whose low-wage employees rely on government assistance.
Amazon extends wage increase beyond the US
The wage rise extends beyond the US. Amazon announced in a press release that it was introducing a new minimum wage in the UK, to £10.50, or $US13.60, for the London area and £9.50 for the rest of the UK. The Living Wage Foundation gives £10.20 as the London living wage and £8.75 for the rest of the country.
The British reporter James Bloodworth, who went undercover as a worker in an Amazon warehouse, told Business Insider that the wage increase was welcome news. “It’s overdue, but it’s a really good step,” he said.
Bloodworth took issue, however, with other ways Amazon treats workers. “There are still issues ongoing in the warehouses,” he said, pointing to high productivity targets. Bloodworth previously told Business Insider that working inside the warehouse was like a “prison.”
A spokesperson for Amazon told Business Insider, “James Bloodworth worked at Amazon for only nine days in early 2016 with the sole purpose to create negative content for his book. Before publishing, he made no attempt to seek clarification from Amazon. James is still happy to sell his book on Amazon.”
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