Amazon announces pay hike for half-million workers

San Francisco, United States: Amazon will raise salaries for more than 500,000 employees on its distribution, shipping, and sorting teams by 50 cents to $3 an hour, the US tech giant reported on Wednesday.

The rises, which will go into effect in May and June, come ahead of a federal hearing on a failed unionization effort and after President Joe Biden singled out Amazon for evading federal income taxes.

During the pandemic, the Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth increased its workforce by 500,000 people. It currently employs about 1.3 million people worldwide.

Typically, the organization reevaluates wages in the fall, in advance of the holiday shopping season. However, it has accelerated the annual analysis this year as it aims to recruit "for tens of thousands of employees across our operations in the United States," according to Darcie Henry, a worldwide operations vice president, in a statement.

Workers on the consumer distribution, shipping, product sortation, and specialty fulfillment teams will receive the pay increase, while employees on other teams will have their annual salaries checked over the year, according to the announcement.

Amazon boosted the minimum wage for all US workers to $15 per hour in 2018 and has recently joined many other major companies in calling for the federal minimum wage to be raised to the same level.

Amazon bragged about its starting hourly pay, among other perks, as it fought off a fiercely contested and eventually unsuccessful attempt to form the company's first union at a US-based facility earlier this month.

Unions and political leaders have argued that Amazon workers are subjected to excessive pressure and surveillance, with no work security, emphasizing the need for collective bargaining.

Organizers of the unsuccessful union campaign accused the organization of bullying employees prior to the mail-in vote and lodged a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

In defending Amazon's treatment of staff after the union vote, company founder and CEO Jeff Bezos vowed a better "vision" for workers.

In a letter, he said that the company's new mission is to be "Earth's best employer and Earth's safest place to work."

Amazon revealed its new wage increase the day before it reports its first-quarter earnings.

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