The UK's GMB union has criticized e-commerce giant Amazon of offsetting almost half of the monetary benefits gained from its recent pay rise for warehouse workers.
Following years of criticism from everyone from workers to politicians, the trillion-dollar company announced this week that it would be increasing its workers minimum rates to $15 in the US and £9.50 ($12.32) for its UK workers.
However, it was later revealed that it also planned to remove employee share and incentive schemes, along with cash bonuses for meeting productivity and attendance targets. Union bosses claim it will cost UK Amazon workers up to £1,500 ($1,947) a year, slashing almost half of the benefits gained from the pay rise.
GMB union general secretary Tim Roache said Amazon had failed to mention any of these changes to staff benefits when they announced the new hourly pay rate: "This is a basically a stealth tax by the employer on its own wage increase – a clear case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
"If Jeff Bezos – the richest man in the world – really wants to give hardworking staff a pay rise, he should let them keep their share options as well as increasing their hourly rate," he added.
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Amazon have confirmed the changes to its incentive schemes, explaining the "hourly fulfillment and customer service employees [said] that they prefer the predictability and immediacy of cash [to share bonuses]."
Amazon has said it plans to phase out the scheme and put in place a sharesave scheme in lieu of it. This will allow workers to buy shares at a discount after three to five years of employment.
"The significant increase in hourly cash wages more than compensates for the phase out of incentive pay and RSUs," said Amazon in a statement. "We can confirm that all hourly operations and customer service employees will see an increase in their total compensation as a result of this announcement.
"In addition, because it's no longer incentive-based, the compensation will be more immediate and predictable," it added.