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Greece scares consumers off spending

Consumer confidence in Germany is beginning to be dampened slightly by the uncertainty surrounding Greece, a poll found on Thursday.

Greece scares consumers off spending

“The so far unsuccessful efforts to find a solution to the debt crisis in Greece and ward off the country's imminent bankruptcy appear to be dampening the economic outlook for consumers,” market research company GfK said in a statement.

That was, in turn, weighing on consumers' willingness to open their purses and spend money. At the same time, households' income expectations rose to their highest levels since unification, the statement said.

News of the subdued mood among consumers came just a day after a sharp dip in the widely-watched Ifo business confidence index.

Looking ahead to next month, GfK's headline household confidence index was forecast to slip fractionally to 10.1 points in July from a rise of 10.2 points in June.

“Despite the slight drop, private consumption in Germany remains the main pillar supporting the economy. But the latest development shows that the consumer climate is also vulnerable to international risks,” GfK said.

“The battle to resolve the Greek debt crisis is escalating and it is looking ever more likely that the country will default. And that could cause the economic motor to start stuttering,” it warned.

The outlook for Europe's top economy is beginning to cloud over, according to other leading sentiment indicators, but analysts insist recovery is not yet jeopardised, as a weaker euro and falling oil prices provide a boost to the country's exporters and a robust labour market and rising wages fuel domestic demand.

SEE ALSO: Merkel greets 'progress' in Greece talks

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CHRISTMAS

Amazon workers across Germany go on strike for higher wages in build up to ‘online Xmas’

Employees of the online retailer Amazon have downed their tools at several locations across Germany in a protest against precarious wages, but the online shopping giant insists that the strike won’t impact Christmas deliveries.

Amazon workers across Germany go on strike for higher wages in build up to 'online Xmas'
Photo: DPA

In Bad Hersfeld, in the central state of Hesse, employees at an Amazon logistics centre started their strike early on Monday morning. A spokeswoman for the Verdi trade union said they expected about 500 workers at the retail company to take part. 

In Rheinberg and Werne in North Rhine-Westphalia, the strike began shortly before midnight on Sunday evening, with some 500 workers taking part and further 300 workers in the town of Werne joining in.

The union action has hit six locations across the country in total and strike action is set to last until Christmas Eve.

The trade union Verdi had called for strikes at various locations as it sought to push Amazon into recognition of the collective agreements which are commonly established established between trade unions and employer associations in Germany.

“Last week's closure of on-site retail has once again significantly increased the volume of orders placed with mail-order companies such as Amazon,” Verdi said in a statement.

“While the corporation continues to increase its billions in profits, it refuses to pay employees according to collective bargaining agreements. These are minimum conditions,” the union added.

A Verdi spokesman added that Amazon was earning “a golden profit” while workers' health suffered under the stress of delivering packages on time during the pandemic.

Additionally, the trade union said it wanted to push for better health and safety at the workplace in Amazon logistics centres. 

Amazon has always resisted joining in such agreements, claiming that it offers good wages outside of the traditional trade union structures.

Amazon said Monday that its employees already benefit from “excellent wages, excellent fringe benefits and excellent career opportunities.” 

The US-based firm also said that it made health and well-being at work a top priority. 

The company insisted that the strikes would have no impact on customer deliveries in the run up to Christmas, stating that the vast majority of employees work as normal.

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