Effective Nov. 1, the U.S. wage increase to $15 an hour applies to more than 250,000 current employees along with 100,000 more seasonal workers who will be hired during the holidays, Amazon said Tuesday in a statement. The hourly minimum wage in the London area will rise to 10.50 pounds ($13.60), and 9.50 pounds in the rest of the U.K., affecting some 37,000 current and seasonal employees, according to a separate statement.
The e-commerce behemoth has been hit by lawsuits in recent years alleging that it has used contract employees to skirt regulations and cut costs in the U.S. and abroad. Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has charged that Amazon pays its workers such a low wage that many of them have to apply for public assistance.
“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos in the statement. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”
Company lobbyists will also begin advocating for an increase in the U.S. federal minimum wage, Amazon said.
Amazon’s new U.K. minimum wage barely exceeds a so-called London Living Wage of 10.20 pounds that some British businesses have adopted./bloomberg.com