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STRIKES

20,000 walk out in public sector strike

Thousands of public sector workers in Germany staged a warning strike over a pay dispute Monday, in a second wave of industrial action that is set to roll out across the country.

20,000 walk out in public sector strike
Photo: DPA

About 20,000 people took part in the work stoppage in northern Lower Saxony state and nearby Bremen city-state, according to organisers, Verdi, Germany’s leading service industry trade union.

Verdi is demanding a 6.5 percent increase in salaries this year for two million workers and has rejected an offer made last week for a 3.3 percent rise over two years.

Further talks are scheduled for March 28 and 29 but Verdi plans to step up the action which has hit hospitals, public transport, kindergartens and public administration offices, before then.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the strike will extend to four other states in the west and south of Germany, it said.

Some 130,000 people took part in a first wave of strike action across the country at the beginning of the month.

AFP/hc

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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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