• Germany's news in English
Hundreds of great job opportunities for foreign professionals at Germany's top employers - in cooperation with Monster, Experteer, Stepstone, and CareerBuilder.
jobs available
Find English-speaking professionals with The Local.
Advertise a vacancy
Amazon accused of abusing Christmas staff
Photo: DPA

Amazon accused of abusing Christmas staff

Published: 15 Feb 2013 12:19 CET

The film, broadcast on state ARD television on Wednesday night showed Spanish workers talking about security guards searching the places they were staying in - and that these were shoddy hotels and abandoned holiday camps.

The film alleges the workers were brought to Germany under false promises - only getting work with contractors rather than with Amazon itself. They were paid €8.52 an hour before taxes - and only discovered this two days after leaving home.

Some workers had to walk up to 17 kilometres a day to work, and were expected to work for 15 days without a break. Money was docked from their pay to cover their lodgings.

Film maker Diana Löbl s told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that workers were watched 24 hours a day. "Initially during their eight-hour shifts in the warehouses," she said. "Then in their accommodation by a dubious security company, which is run by far-right extremists", she said.

The documentary makers said their work was repeatedly disrupted by security guards, some of whom wore Thor Steinar clothes favoured by the German neo-Nazi scene. A security firm named H.E.S.S. was also linked to the far-right in the film.

One scene in the film shows how the journalists were physically shoved around by the guards. And later they left a holiday camp where workers were staying, under police protection.

"We felt threatened," she added. "We were stuck in our room for nearly an hour until we could leave with police protection."

Service union Verdi has called for improvements in conditions for such workers. Hainer Raimann, Amazon expert at the union said the company offered jobs abroad after workers who had worked at home were so turned off at conditions in warehouses at home they refused to return.

Amazon said it had around 7,700 staff at its logistics centres in Graben near Augsburg, Bad Hersfeld, Leipzig, Rheinberg, Werne, Pforzheim and Koblenz.

Click here for The Local's job listings

"During the Christmas season we take on additional Amazon seasonal workers," a statement from the company released on Thursday read. It also confirmed that the firm worked with temporary work agencies. It said that workers earned pre-tax wages of at least €9.30 an hour which increased later to more than €10 an hour.

"Even if the security firms were not contracted by Amazon, we are of course checking the allegations made by the journalists about their behaviour and will immediately take appropriate measures," the statement continued.

No intimidation or discrimination would be tolerated, it said.

The Local/DPA/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article:

The comments below have not been moderated in advance and are not produced by The Local unless clearly stated. Readers are responsible for the content of their own comments. Comments that breach our terms and conditions will be removed.

Your German Career
What do German bosses need to do to get more out of their staff? Frankfurt-based business consultant Justin Bariso has this advice.
Germany's Federal Employment Agency has identified the job sectors the country is most short of workers for. JobTalk looks at where the vacancies lie.
Students at German universities have shown themselves to be a risk-free lot in a survey by Ernst & Young. The civil service is their most popular choice of future profession, while job security is valued above all else.
Jenny Core, originally from Bolton, England, shares her tips in this week’s My German Career on being an artist in Berlin. The 27-year-old exhibits her work regularly in the city, including next to a Turner Prize shortlister.
In this week's JobTalk, Tanya Schober, who is originally from India, talks us through her journey to German citizenship.
In this week's My German Career, Anupama Gopalakrishna, who is originally from Bangalore in India, tells The Local about her new life in Frankfurt.
German Employment News
In our weekly feature series, The Local chats with a successful entrepreneur. This week, Sparsh Sharma talks to Simon Schneider, CEO and co-founder of networking tool Zyncd.
In our ongoing feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind their successes, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed them forever. This week, Sparsh Sharma talks to Mario Paladini, founder of Club GLOBALS, a 'community marketplace' for expats.
In our new feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind their successes, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed them forever. This week, we meet Berlin resident Marc C. Lange, co-founder and CEO of Crowdflow UG.
The Federal Administrative Court on Wednesday has ruled that the state of Hesse overstepped its bounds when legislating more allowances for firms to operate, and thus force employees to work, on Sundays and bank holidays.
UPDATE: The grand coalition's freshly minted law mandating that 30 percent of executive positions must be filled by women is being hit with harsh criticisms from the firms who have to comply to it.
In our new feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind their successes, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed them forever. This week, Sparsh Sharma talks to Lawrence Leuschner, founder of second-hand marketplace reBuy.

In the decade since it was founded, The Local in Sweden has given people around the world an insight into one of Europe's most successful societies. We are now looking for a talented English-language journalist with an excellent command of Swedish to help us take the site to the next level

Added 12/17/14

Added 12/17/14

Added 12/17/14

Added 12/17/14

Added 12/17/14

Added 12/17/14