German Amazon Workers Go On Strike During Christmas Rush

Over 1,100 of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s 9,000 employees in Germany went on strike on Monday in an ongoing dispute over low pay and poor working conditions. Amazon also employs around 14,000 seasonal employees in Germany.

A statement from Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) said they expect no delays in deliveries. “Our customers can continue to rely on us for the prompt delivery of their Christmas presents,” a spokeswoman said, elaborating that Amazon takes full advantage of its entire European logistics network over the holidays to minimize delivery times.

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German union statement

The striking workers are from the Verdi Union, and are employed at Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) operations in Bad Herzfeld, Leipzig and Graben. Verdi organized a number of brief strikes earlier this year to try to force Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) to accept collective bargaining agreements to determine workers’ pay in Amazon’s German distribution centers.

“The Amazon system is characterized by low wages, permanent performance pressure and short-term contracts,” Verdi board member Stefanie Nutzenberger said.

Global support for strikers

A group of German workers traveled to Seattle together with U.S. union members. Workers at Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s center in the German town of Werne are also planning a protest on Tuesday. Union sources say strikes are anticipated to continue through Friday in Leipzig and at least until Wednesday in Bad Hersfeld.

“Amazon must realize it cannot export its anti-union labor model to European shores. We call on the company to come to the table and sign a global agreement that guarantees the rights of workers,” wrote Philip Jennings of global trade union UNI.

Amazon’s response

Ralf Kleber, head of Amazon Germany, told Reuters in an interview in November that Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) would not bow to pressure from striking workers and that he was actually more worried about bad weather slowing down Christmas deliveries.

Kleber continued to say Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) compensates warehouse workers quite well relative to the pay of the logistics industry, with starting wages at at 9.55 euros ($13.11) per hour. He also said does not believe the high pay found in the mail order and retail sector is justified.

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