Amazon to raise minimum wage to $15 for US employees

An employee packages a product at an Amazon Fulfillment center. Julio Cortez  AP

An employee packages a product at an Amazon Fulfillment center. Julio Cortez AP

Amazon is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all U.S. employees.

Amazon has recently been targeted over its pay by Senator Bernie Sanders, who last month introduced a less-than-subtly-named piece of legislation called the Stop Bad Employers by Zering Out Subsidies-"Stop BEZOS"-Act".

But there's some good news, because the company has announced it's raising the minimum wage for its United Kingdom employees to £9.50 a hour - or £10.50 an hour if they're based in London.

In response to Sanders and other critics, Amazon had previously said employees in its warehouses were paid an average of $15 if stock-based compensation and bonuses were included, without breaking out their underlying hourly wage.

Amazon said it would increase its minimum wage for all full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees.

Amazon says it will pay all its US workers at least $15.

"We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead", said CEO Jeff Bezos. They have drawn a contrast with Bezos' spectacular wealth: He is the richest person alive, worth an estimated $165 billion. Washington state has the highest minimum wage in the country at $11.50 per hour.

At the new pay rate, an Amazon employee who makes minimum wage would need to work more than 3 weeks (133 hours) to buy one share of the company's stock, which now sits above $2,000.

The pay hike, one of the largest awarded by any major US company, will affect 250,000 Amazon employees and 100,000 seasonal employees who are hired at Amazon sites during the holiday season. It also applies to workers at subsidiaries such as Whole Foods.

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".

The company didn't say how many workers were making less than $15 an hour.

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