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STRIKES

Milk strike damages estimated at €50 mln

Creameries affected by the milk delivery strike by dairy farmers in the last week have suffered millions of euros in damages, according the German daily Bild on Wednesday.

Milk strike damages estimated at €50 mln
Milking stations at a standstill on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Damages so far are “definitely €50 million” because of production stoppages, head of the German Milk Industry Association (MIV) Eberhard Hetzner told the paper.

The strike and blockades have affected about half of the some 110 German creameries, Hetzner said, adding that most of the blockade locations had settled down.

“There are hardly any more blockades at the creameries,” he said. “Everything will be running smoothly by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest.”

Bild also reported that the Ehrmann creamery is considering taking legal action against the dairy farmers.

“It was illegal to seal off our businesses,” said Werner Hahn, member of the management board for the country’s five largest creameries. “We’re keeping our options open to sue for damages.”

Agricultural minister for the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, Christian von Boetticher, condemned the strikes.

“This is a provocation,” he said. “At my house we say that one doesn’t throw food away.”

German dairy farmers have engaged in a delivery boycott since last Tuesday to protest prices for milk they consider too low. Currently they are paid between €0.27 to €0.35 per litre of milk, but are demanding €0.43 per litre.

Farmers have openly thrown the surplus milk down drains, fed it to their calves, or spread it over crops.

The German Farmers Association (DBV) said Tuesday it expects creameries and retailers to agree to begin price negotiations immediately now that consumers will soon begin to feel the affects of the week-long delivery boycott.

Meanwhile dairy farmers across Europe have shown solidarity with the German strike.

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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