According to the union Ver.di, which represents workers in Amazon distribution centres, workers in Werne, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Leipzig, Saxony, walked out on Sunday night, during the international online retailer’s busiest period.
“There is a danger that Christmas presents will not arrive in time,” a spokesman for the trade union told DPA.
It is likely that the strike in Leipzig, in the east of the country, will continue until next Monday – Christmas Eve – according to the union.
Workers at the warehouse delivery centre in Werne, western Germany, will strike until Tuesday evening.
The union warned that the industrial action could be extended to other locations and for longer periods of time in the Christmas period.
However, Amazon said on Monday that less than 350 employees were taking part in the strikes in Leipzig and Werne. Concerns that gifts would not arrive in time for Christmas were unfounded, according to the global giant. “The strike has no influence on the fulfilment of our delivery promise,” the firm said in a statement. The “overwhelming majority” of employees are working as normal, the company added.
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The union members are taking industrial action over a working conditions dispute that’s lasted around five years.
Ver.di union has been calling on Amazon to changes its rules to allow a legally binding collective bargaining agreement for the company’s approximately 16,000 German employees which it believes would guarantee better working conditions. The union is seeking an agreement similar to that available for retail workers and other mail order companies.
However, Amazon has previously said that their workers already earn a higher wage than the industry average. The firm sees itself as part of the logistics industry rather than a retail and mail order company.
“Workers in our logistics centres are paid at the high end for workers in their category. Our German employees start with a salary of at least €10.78 per hour,” Amazon spokesman Stefan Eichenseher has previously said.
Last week, around 500 employees walked out at the Rheinberg site, North Rhine-Westphalia, in the push for improved working conditions.
Meanwhile, on Black Friday at the end of last month, workers at warehouses in Rheinberg and Bad Hersfeld in Hesse, the company’s largest location, took part in a strike.