What’s behind Amazon’s plan to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour?


What’s behind Amazon’s plan to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour?

Jerry White

3 October 2018

With great fanfare on Tuesday, Amazon announced it will raise the minimum wage it pays to 250,000 workers and 100,000 seasonal temps to $15 an hour. In the United Kingdom, the company is raising the wages of 40,000 permanent and temporary workers to £10.50 (US $13.69) an hour in London and £9.50 (US $12.39) across the rest of the country.

The wage increases, which will go into effect for Amazon and Whole Foods workers on November 1, are a response to the deep opposition of Amazon workers to the poverty level wages and brutal working conditions at the giant retail and logistics company. The growing militancy of Amazon workers is, moreover, part of a wider sentiment among workers in the US and internationally, who after a decade of declining real wages since the 2008 financial crash are determined to fight for substantial improvements.

The pay increase, however, is minimal and will do little to improve the living standards of Amazon workers. The median Amazon worker was paid $28,446 last year, according to company filings, which comes out to about $13.68 an hour. An increase to $15.00 an hour—$1.32 more for the median worker—would amount to a yearly wage of $30,000. This is 120 percent of the official poverty rate for a family of four and will do little to help workers keep their heads above water, particularly in urban centers with higher costs of living.

Internal company documents available to Amazon workers make clear that the raise will be accompanied by the elimination of various incentive bonuses and other programs, which workers rely on to help with bills and car payments. This includes all or parts of the Variable Compensation Plan (VCP) and MyReward bonuses…

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