Union Calls For Amazon Workers’ Strike In Germany

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A German labor union for two Amazon logistics centers is calling for a strike ahead of Christmas demanding higher pay, Reuters reported on Sunday (Dec. 15).

The labor union Verdi, in an effort to force Amazon to recognize collective bargaining agreements that apply to other retail employees, is calling on employees to demand better working conditions. 

“Verdi wants to use the high-turnover days before Christmas to raise the pressure for collective wage bargaining at Amazon,” the union said in a statement on Sunday, Reuters reported. The union maintains that holiday bonuses “should be quadrupled” from the current level of €400 ($441).

The strike at the Amazon logistics center in Bad Hersfeld is scheduled to start on Monday morning (Dec. 16) and continue until Dec. 21. Germany is Amazon’s second-largest market after the U.S. 

“It’s precisely during Christmas business that colleagues are most heavily burdened, under stress and doing overtime, and that should be recognized with collectively agreed Christmas money,” Mechthild Middeke, leader of the strike, said in the statement.

The union has been striking in Germany since 2013 over wages, but Amazon has said few workers participated and there was little impact on productivity. Amazon staff in Germany totals 20,000 across 35 sites.

“Parcels will arrive punctually since most employees will continue to work on customer orders,” an Amazon spokesman said statement to Reuters. “For people in the logistics center, Amazon is undoubtedly one of the best employers.”

In September, Amazon said it was starting to hire delivery drivers in Germany as it ramped up its logistics arm, with plans to open 11 more distribution centers in the country. Amazon entered Germany in 2015. The expansion push is part of the retail giant’s plan to build its own land, sea and air logistics operation to help contain shipping costs.

Germany is in a special position in the industry because most delivery firms subcontract. Earlier this year, German police raids uncovered evidence that drivers were not being paid minimum wage or were deducting taxes incorrectly.