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FARMING

German dairies demand nationwide price hike

The German farmers' union demanded on Thursday that all retailers follow the example of Lidl discount retailer and hike milk prices following a week-long delivery strike by dairy farms.

German dairies demand nationwide price hike
Photo: DPA

“The prices are going up, but not everywhere. So we now need a joint push to get other food stores on board,” said the president of the DBV union, Gerd Sonnleitner.

He warned that unless all stores put up prices the nation’s 100,000 dairy farmers would step up a protest that has seen them pour milk into ditches instead of delivering it to dairy plants.

“We reserve the right to take further protest action,” Sonnleitner told ZDF television.

In a first victory for the dairy farmers, Lidl on Wednesday announced that it would increase the price of a litre of milk by €0.10 ($0.15) to €0.71 from Monday. The price of 250 grammes (one cup) of butter will go up by €0.20 on its shelves, the discounter said.

For just over a week, tens of thousands of dairy farmers across Germany have refused to deliver to plants that pasteurise milk and make cheese and other products that they sell to retailers. In some cases, they have blocked access to plants with tractors, prompting police to intervene.

Europe’s biggest dairy, the Sachsenmilch Molkerei in eastern Leppensdorf, has been blocked since Sunday, as have other major milk hubs. On Thursday afternoon, protesting farmers were expected to drive their tractors to Berlin’s historic Brandenburg Gate to highlight their battle for higher prices.

The BDM dairy farmers’ federation, which called the strike, wants farmers to be paid €0.43 per litre, compared to €0.28-0.34 at present, to offset rising energy costs which they say are swallowing their profits.

The protests have angered the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which warned that images of milk being thrown away would offend developing nations battling growing food shortages.

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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