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STRIKES

Strike over for German textile workers

After days of warning strikes, the western German textile industry announced early Tuesday morning in Gladbeck that it has achieved a new wage contract with employers.

After June 1, the 120,000 employees will receive a 3.6 percent pay raise. For April and May, they will get single payment of an extra €200. The contract will last for 12 months. The two sides were unable to achieve an open-ended agreement, and will refer to expert negotiators who will address the issue.

Union IG Metall had intended to get a 5.5 percent raise for workers, and more than 18,000 members participated in warning strikes nationwide to pressure employers since late-February.

The German textile workers union includes clothing manufacturers, and suppliers of rugs and upholstery for the auto industry. North Rhine-Westphalia is the most important German state for the textile industry, home to some 40 percent of the workers.

CHRISTMAS

Strikes hit Amazon in Germany in the run up to Christmas

Around 2,500 Amazon employees at seven sites across Germany were on strike on Tuesday and unions warned stoppages could continue up to Christmas.

Amazon parcel in factory
A parcel rolls along a conveyor belt at an Amazon packing facility in Gera, Thuringia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Bodo Schackow

The strikes at so-called “fulfilment” centres, where Amazon prepares packages before delivery, began in two locations on Monday.

The Verdi union is calling on Amazon for an “immediate” salary increase of three percent this year, followed by a further 1.7 percent next year, in line with a collective agreement for the retail sector, to which the e-commerce giant does not adhere.

Amazon could not continue to “refuse wage increases that other companies in the sector pay”, Verdi retail head Orhan Akman said in a statement Monday.

Amazon, which operates 17 centres in Germany, argues it is a logistics company, a sector in which the terms of work are considered to be less burdensome for the employer.

Amazon said it did not expect the strike to have an impact on clients.

However, a Verdi spokesman said the stoppage could cause disruption, particularly in Amazon’s rapid-delivery “Prime” offering.

Strikes were likely to continue “until the end of the year”, the spokesman said, impacting on the busy Christmas shopping period.

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Verdi, which first called for strikes at Amazon in May 2013, organised demonstrations outside the fulfilment centres on Tuesday to protest poor working conditions.

Amazon — which has seen its business boom during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers increasingly shopped online — announced in September that it would open eight new centres in Germany, creating 3,000 jobs by 2022.

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