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STRIKES

Thousands of workers strike in four states

Public workers in four of Germany’s states went on the latest in a series of warning strikes on Friday, hoping to put pressure on employers in an ongoing wage dispute.

Thousands of workers strike in four states
Photo: DPA

Tens of thousands of civil servants from different sectors in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, Saxony and Saarland took part in the temporary strikes before their union, Verdi, was to negotiate with the state wage association TDL on Saturday.

Verdi, along with unions GEW and dbb, represent 700,000 state workers who are demanding an 8 percent wage increase. The state employers have offered a 4.2 percent increase that would begin in July and last for the next two years.

Head of the dbb union Frank Stöhr told news agency DPA that his group was optimistic about the negotiations, but said the employers would have to make some compromises.

“And the unions also know there will have to be a compromise in the end,” he said.

Meanwhile deputy head of the employers‘ association Rainer Speer told DPA that his group would not be making a better offer and encouraged the workers’ unions to accept, saying it had been presented “without any tricks.”

The third round of negotiations between German states and unions ended without an agreement on February 14 in Potsdam. The TDL state wage alliance offered the wage increase of 4.2 percent – their first offer since negotiations began. But the union officials rejected the offer, scheduling more meetings for February 28 and March 1.

Unions have called for limited warning strikes across the country in recent weeks as the wage dispute escalates. Workers from two of Germany’s 16 federal states, Hesse and Berlin, are not participating in the strikes or negotiations.

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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