Amazon has long been criticized for its labor policies, particularly in regards to worker conditions their distribution centers. And it seems this year for Christmas it will be collecting the gift of mass worker discontent via strike — actual and potential.
The actual striking is not on U.S. soil. According to Reuters reports, German warehouse workers officially commenced a new strike earlier today at the behest of labor union, Verdi. The strike comes as the latest chapter in what has been an ongoing struggle in Germany with organized labor pay and conditions in Amazon’s warehouses.
The strike will be fairly wide-ranging. Six of nine Amazon warehouses in Germany are signing on with the strike, according to Verdi, which will run until Dec. 24 at four of the centers (and for an unknown shorter period at the others). And that is some brutal news for Amazon, given that Germany is the eCommerce giant’s second biggest market after the U.S.
Currently, Amazon employs 10,000 warehouse staff plus more than 10,000 seasonal workers — and Verdi says they are expecting hundreds of them to walk off the job (similar to previous strikes). Amazon’s spokesperson responded that only a small minority of staff are on strike in Germany.
“There is absolutely no impact on our customer delivery promise. The vast majority of our employees are working,” she said, noting that Amazon uses a network of 29 warehouses across Europe to fulfill orders.
Verdi has organized frequent strikes at Amazon since May 2013 – in an attempt to force the firm to raise pay for warehouse workers in accordance with collective bargaining agreements in Germany’s mail order and retail industry. Amazon has refused, noting that warehouse staff are logistics workers — and that they are already paid above-industry averages.