Amazon Workers Walk Out in Germany to Protest Pay

By: Carlie McKeon  |  December 19, 2014

newswriter_main2Amazon staff at three German warehouses will extend a strike until Christmas Eve to increase pressure on the online retailer in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions. More than 2,400 workers took part in walkouts, according to the labor union, Verdi.

Verdi also filed a lawsuit against a decision by regional authorities to allow Amazon staff in two German cities to work the Sunday before Christmas as the mail-order group steps up efforts to deliver orders to customers before the holiday.

Industrial action this week had already been extended until Saturday in four of Amazon’s nine distribution centers in Germany and until December 24 at one warehouse.

The union has organized frequent strikes at Amazon in Germany since May 2013 as it seeks to force the retailer to raise pay for warehouse workers in accordance with collective bargaining agreements across Germany’s mail order and retail industry.

Verdi said that the lawsuit filed against Amazon meant that the authorities’ approval of the group putting its employees to work on Sunday was effectively void. Work on Sunday has to be reserved for strictly exceptional cases, “which we do not see in the case of Amazon,” a Verdi board member indicated in an emailed statement.

Amazon, which was not immediately available for comment, has repeatedly rejected the union’s demands, saying it regards warehouse staff as logistics workers and that they receive above-average pay by the standards of that industry.

The U.S. company employs almost 10,000 regular staff at its warehouses in Germany, its second-biggest market behind the United States, as well as more than 10,000 seasonal workers. It can also draw on 19 other warehouses across Europe.

Amazon said deliveries had not been delayed by industrial action so far and that it had even extended to midday on December 22 the order deadline for gifts to reach customers in time for December 24 by normal delivery.

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