Tags: Amazon | Germany | worker | strike

Amazon German Workers Expand Strikes Amid Culture Standoff

Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 06:56 AM

Amazon.com Inc. workers in Germany expanded a strike to a fifth logistics center as the country’s largest union pushes the U.S. online retailer to join collective bargaining agreements and pay higher wages.

“The people here are fed up,” Karsten Rupprecht, a Ver.di union representative attending the strike in the city of Werne, said in a phone interview Wednesday. “We have to show Amazon that they can’t just do with us what they want.”

Amazon workers in Germany, the retailer’s biggest market outside the U.S., have held walkouts in the last 1 1/2 years demanding that the Seattle-based company recognize industrywide labor agreements, which are the norm in the country. The dispute highlights the conflict between Amazon’s business approach, built on cost flexibility, and a national labor model in Germany that dates from the middle of the 19th century. The company has about 15,000 German logistics workers, including those on temporary contracts, according to the union.

The union says Amazon’s method of dealing with workers individually or in small groups has led to many employees being on short-term contracts, people not getting sufficient breaks and higher sick rates. It also says employees should be classified as retail rather than logistics workers to justify higher wages. The current strike started Sept. 22 and is set to end later today.

The company has said that it pays logistics workers at the upper end of what’s usual in the sector and that employees wouldn’t benefit from collective wage agreements. Amazon representatives in Germany didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on the widening of the strike.

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Amazon.com Inc. workers in Germany expanded a strike to a fifth logistics center as the country's largest union pushes the U.S. online retailer to join collective bargaining agreements and pay higher wages.
Amazon, Germany, worker, strike
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2014-56-24
Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 06:56 AM
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