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Amazon looks east, away from German strikes

Hit by labour disputes and strikes in Germany, US online giant Amazon is considering five new logistics centres in the Czech Republic and Poland, a Polish economic daily reported on Monday.

Amazon looks east, away from German strikes
Photo: DPA

The report comes after several hundred employees of its German centres went on strike after Amazon refused to bring pay in line with comparable work in the distribution sector. Walkouts were also held in May and June.

The new centres, which would have lower labour costs, would each measure around 100,000 square metres and cost from €50m to €60m the Puls Biznesu newspaper said, citing anonymous sources.

Regional development agency official Ewa Kaucz in the western city of Wroclaw told the daily that talks were ongoing but no final decision had been made.

According to the daily, two centres could open near Wroclaw, with another in the western city of Poznan, for a total Polish workforce of 6,000 people. A first centre could open next year aimed at serving Western Europe, it said.

Two others could open in the Czech Republic. An earlier report by the Czech business daily Hospodarske noviny said Amazon was mulling a centre near the Prague airport.

Amazon employs 9,000 people in Germany at eight logistics centres, two customer service centres and at the German headquarters in the southern city of Munich.

READ MORE: First strike hits Amazon German unit

AFP/tsb

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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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