German Union Calls For Amazon Strike Before Christmas

Shoppers in Germany could face the late arrivals of their online purchases after a German trade union called for a pre-Christmas strike at Amazon.

The trade union Verdi called for workers at a key Amazon logistics center in Germany to go on strike over the crucial final shopping days before Christmas.

They are demanding better pay and conditions for workers there, Reuters reported. And the strike could cause problems for Amazon, Germany is Amazon’s second largest market – outside of the United States.

Amazon strike

It should be noted that trade unions have staged repeated strikes in Germany over the years, in an effort to force the e-commerce giant to recognise collective bargaining agreements that apply to other retail employees.

“Verdi wants to use the high-turnover days before Christmas to raise the pressure for collective wage bargaining at Amazon,” the union was quoted as saying in a statement on Sunday.

It added that staff Christmas bonuses should be quadrupled from their current level of 400 euros ($441).

“It’s precisely during Christmas business that colleagues are most heavily burdened, under stress and doing overtime, and that should be recognized with collectively agreed Christmas money,” Mechthild Middeke, leader of the strike, was quoted as saying.

The strike is set to begin on Monday morning at a logistics center in Bad Hersfeld, and will last until Saturday evening.

The union did not mention any industrial action at other warehouses in Germany, and there are no updates at the time of writing as to how many Amazon workers have heeded the strike call.

“Parcels will arrive punctually since most employees will continue to work on customer orders,” an Amazon spokesman told Reuters in an emailed statement. “For people in the logistics center, Amazon is undoubtedly one of the best employers.”

Previous strikes

This is not the first time that Amazon has been hit with strikes in Germany.

In December 2013 for example, Amazon staff at warehouses in Bad Hersfeld, Leipzig and Graben went on strike over a pay dispute, in the middle of the busiest shopping period of the year.

Despite more than a thousand staff walking out back then, Amazon claimed there was no delays to deliveries.

Also in 2013,Amazon’s UK operation was heavily criticised after the BBC journalist Adam Littler managed to get a job at the company’s Swansea warehouse.

An expert on work stress later said that Littler’s undercover reporting suggested the job carried “increased risk of mental illness and physical illness.”

Then in April 2014 Verdi called for another strike by workers at Amazon Germany, over the e-commerce giant’s refusal to talk about a long-running pay dispute.

The union called for workers at distribution centres in Leipzig and Bad Hersfeld to walk off the job in 2014.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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