Amazon Makes a Big Move on Minimum Wage

Today, in a surprise move, the Seattle, Washington-based company announced that they are raising their minimum hourly wage to $15.

The new Amazon UK rate is also higher than the wage level recommended by the Living Wage Foundation of £8.75, or £10.20 in London.

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 US and overseas.

Amazon has raised the pay of thousands of workers in the United Kingdom and USA, after coming under increasing fire from campaigners over its low wages.

Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of the e-commerce company, which has become a byword in Britain for low-paying work in recent years, said: "We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead".

Amazon also said its public policy team will begin lobbying for an increase in the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 an hour since 2009.

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Amazon said it wants to convince lawmakers to boost the federal minimum wage.

Amazon's market capitalization now stands near $1 trillion; it paid Bezos, its founder and CEO, $1.68 million a year ago.

The retail giant has faced criticism for not paying its workers enough, especially in light of Bezos' vast wealth: he's now considered the richest person in the world with a net worth of about $165 billion.

The company didn't say how many workers were making less than $15 an hour. In the U.S., workers will receive $15 an hour from the start of November. Employees at Whole Foods, which Amazon now owns, will get the same pay hike.

The $15 per hour wage will include all types of employee: full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary.

Jay Carney, Amazon's senior vice president for global corporate affairs, pledged that the company would advocate a minimum wage increase "that will have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country".

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