Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos, who is worth $164billion, said he had ‘listened to his critics’
Amazon is boosting its minimum wage for all U.S. workers to $15 per hour starting next month after receiving criticism for the high pressure, low paying conditions hundreds of thousands of employees endure in its warehouses.
Until now, minimum wages across its US warehouses ranges per state from around $10-an-hour in Texas to $13.50 in parts of New Jersey and California.
The new standardized minimum wage will benefit 350,000 people including the 250,000 it already has on its payroll and an additional 100,000 who will be hired for seasonal work.
The new wages will go into effect on November 1 and will also apply to Whole Foods workers.
Amazon’s hourly operations and customer service employees, some who already make $15 per hour, will also see a wage increase and minimum wages will also be raised in some of its overseas operations.
In Britain, it will be £10.50 an hour in London and £9.50 in other parts of the country. Until now, it had been £8 an hour.
While the minimum wage increase heralds a boost of up to 36 percent for some workers, the company quietly included in the announcement that it was phasing out its Restricted Stock Unit program.
AMAZON VS GOVERNMENT
Amazon’s minimum wage: $15 an hour
Federal minimum wage: $7.25
States vary but the highest is $13.60 in some Californian cities
Amazon UK minimum wage: £10.50 in London, £9.50 elsewhere
UK minimum wage: £7.83 for over 25s
£7.38 aged 21-24
£5.90 aged 18-20
£4.20 under 18
‘We’ve heard from our hourly fulfillment and customer service employees that they prefer the predictability and immediacy of cash to RSUs.
‘We will be phasing out the RSU grant program for stock which would vest in 2020 and 2021 for this group of employees, replacing it with a direct stock purchase plan before the end of 2019,’ it said.
Amazon individual share prices have been unstoppable in the last year. Last month, it became the second publicly traded company to pass the $1trillion threshold.
In a statement on Tuesday, CEO Jeff Bezos said: ‘We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead.
‘We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.’
The announcement did little to affect share prices in pre-market trading. As of 7.30am, they were down by less than 1 per cent to $1,993.
There are already 250,000 people in the US working in Amazon’s warehouses and in Whole Foods. Another 100,000 will be hired for seasonal work and all of them will enjoy the new minimum wage. Pictured, an Amazon fulfillment center
The company is poised to hit and stick at $1trillion in market capitalization. While the average warehouse salary is around $28,000, workers in its corporate sphere enjoy six-figure salaries and sought after benefits
The company has come under fire in the past for conditions in some of its warehouses across the country.
In a scathing expose earlier this year, some spoke anonymously to reveal that they often resorted to urinating in trash cans because they were too scared to take time to go to the bathroom in case they missed their packing targets.
An undercover journalist who worked in one of the warehouses in 2016 reported others urinating in bottles for the same reason.
He described it like a ‘prison’ and said employees timed workers’ bathroom breaks in the warehouse he worked in in Britain.
By contrast, jobs in its corporate sphere boast some of the sought-after perks Silicon Valley is known for.
The average salary of an Amazon employee is $100,000 and benefits include stocks and generous 20-week parental leave.
The company has more than 575,000 employees globally.
Other retailers have vowed to hit similar milestones. Target announced earlier this year that it would increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour by the end of 2020.
The company raised its minimum wage to $11 earlier this year. Walmart’s is also $11.