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CHILDREN

Day care strike spreads to eastern states ahead of negotiations

An ongoing strike by day care workers expanded to states in eastern Germany for the first time on Tuesday in an attempt to increase pressure on public employers to provide better working conditions and wages.

Day care strike spreads to eastern states ahead of negotiations
Photo: DPA

Educators and social workers at Kindergartens in the states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, Bavaria and Hamburg did not show up for the early shift.

Public workers’ union Verdi estimated that more than 20,000 workers would take part in the strike, forcing parents to come up with alternative care or stay home from work. So far some 45,000 workers have taken part in the last week.

Verdi and the Education and Science Workers’ Union (GEW), which is also organising the strikes, plans to meet with state employers in Berlin on Wednesday to hammer out new contracts for workers.

Current wages for 220,000 educators across the country are unfair, and workers need better healthcare options to handle the strain of their jobs, they say.

According to union figures, only 58 percent of social workers and 26 percent of educators see themselves reaching retirement in good health under the current working conditions.

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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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