Amazon workers in Germany strike on Prime Day extravaganza

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
BERLIN
Published 15.07.2019 13:51
Updated 15.07.2019 13:53
In this Aug. 3, 2017, file photo, packages pass through a scanner at an Amazon fulfillment center in Baltimore. (AP Photo)
In this Aug. 3, 2017, file photo, packages pass through a scanner at an Amazon fulfillment center in Baltimore. (AP Photo)

Amazon employees went on strike at seven locations in Germany on Monday, demanding better wages as the online retail giant launched its two-day global shopping discount extravaganza called Prime Day.

Workers in Germany walked out in the early hours Monday morning, with Orhan Akman, a spokesman for labor union Verdi, telling French Press Agency (AFP): "We expect a good turnout."

"Amazon offers these discounts to customers at the expense of its own employees' salaries and by fleeing collective bargaining," he charged.

Amazon had insisted in advance that Monday's strike will not affect deliveries to customers.

The strike action coincided with Amazon's announcement on Monday that it would create another 1,000 jobs in Poland as it opens a new logistics depot in the country's southwest near the German and Czech borders.

The US giant said it will offer new employees in Poland "a competitive salary of 20 zloty (4.68 euro, $5.82) per hour gross."

In Germany, Amazon employees start with a minimum wage of 10.78 euros per hour before tax, according to management figures, and after 24 months' employment, they draw an average monthly salary reaching 2,397 euros before deductions.

The online retail giant has faced several rounds of walkouts by workers seeking better conditions.

In 2018, industrial action reached a new height as around 50 strikes were organized around Europe and, in a rare show of cross-border solidarity, some were coordinated to hit simultaneously in several countries.

In April, Amazon trade union representatives from 15 countries met in Berlin to co-ordinate their efforts.

On Monday, Amazon employees at the two distribution centers in Bad Hersfeld, as well as sites in Werne, Rheinberg, Leipzig, Graben and Koblenz, went on strike under the motto: "No more discounts on our incomes."

Meanwhile in the United States, employees at Amazon's warehouse in Minnesota also walked out for the first six hours of Prime Day to highlight their wage demands, according to local media reports.

Verdi argues that money for better wages is "available" as in the first quarter of this year alone Amazon posted record profits of 3.2 billion euros ($3.6 billion).

However, Amazon rejects the trade union's demands and sees no need for collective agreements.

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