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50,000 metalworkers strike for more pay

Tens of thousands of employees from Germany's metalworking sector and electrical industry downed tools on Thursday on the first day of a warning strike over pay, a union said.

50,000 metalworkers strike for more pay
Photo: DPA

Powerful union IG Metall said that nearly 50,000 workers across 100 plants had heeded its call for a temporary stoppage and announced more action across the country in the coming days.

The south-western state of Baden-Württemberg was most affected, with 26,500 workers having taken part in Thursday’s strike, including some at auto makers Daimler and Porsche.

The union is calling for a 5.5-percent salary rise this year for 3.7 million metalworkers spread across different branches ranging from automobiles to electronics.

Several rounds of negotiations have taken place with the employers’ federation, Gesamtmetall, which early last week offered a 2.3-percent rise for 11 months from July 1st. IG Metall rejected the offer.

Pay talks in the metalworking sector set the tone for other areas of industry.

AFP/jcw

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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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