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Amazon workers strike for better pay

Workers at an Amazon distribution centre went on strike on Monday in a continuing battle with the online retailer for better pay and conditions.

Amazon workers strike for better pay
Picketing workers at a previous strike at an Amazon distribution centre in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

Around 30 people began picketing the Amazon warehouse in Bad Hersfeld at midnight, a spokeswoman for union Verdi said, with more expected to arrive at 9 am.

The strike is expected to last all day and possibly into Tuesday.

"As long as Amazon denies employees respect and protection through collective bargaining, we'll keep up the pressure," Verdi board member Stefanie Nutzenberger said.

Verdi has been attempting to bring Amazon to the negotiating table to treat its members at the American online giant as retail workers.

Amazon has repeatedly refused, saying that it is a logistics company.

Around 9,000 people work at Amazon's nine sites across Germany.

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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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