Amazon workers in Germany go on strike over poor salaries

According to reports, workers at some Amazon warehouses in Germany began to strike action on Monday 1st of November 2021, as German labour union Verdi, a leading services sector union, has been organising strikes on and off at Amazon sites in the country since 2013 to protest low pay and poor conditions. Workers at three Amazon facilities in the German states of Saxony and Hesse went on strike on Monday, coinciding with All Saints’ Day, a national holiday in some German states.

The strike, according to Verdi, is the result of a long-running dispute with the US tech company over-improved compensation and working conditions. Adding that the strike was organized to demand a salary raise in line with agreements agreed by the union with Germany’s broader retail and mail-order businesses.

In a statement, Verdi spokesperson Orhan Akman stated, “It is intolerable that a multinational firm worth billions of dollars and (which) makes profit refuses to offer employees the salary increases that other companies in the industry pay.” “Amazon has raised salaries multiple times in recent years as a result of the strikes. Despite this, Amazon pays its workers less than comparable companies with collective bargaining agreements “he added.

According to Akman, workers at four more locations will go on strike beginning in the early hours of Tuesday, with strikes lasting anywhere from 24 hours to three days. He also wants Amazon to recognize collective bargaining agreements in the retail and mail-order industries, as well as to negotiate an agreement on decent working conditions with Amazon.

In a statement, Amazon claims to provide excellent compensation, benefits, and career opportunities. “No one here makes less than 12 euros ($13.87) per hour gross, plus bonuses,” according to the company. Amazon also stated that the strike is having no effect on its customers.

Amazon had announced earlier this year that beginning in July, it would guarantee an entry-level wage of €12 per hour at its German facilities, rising to at least €12.50 per hour by the autumn of 2022. This is not, however, the first time Amazon employees have protested low pay and hazardous working conditions.

On November 27, 2020, just weeks before Christmas, unions representing tens of thousands of Amazon employees planned walkouts and other actions to protest the e-commerce giant’s handling of everything from sick pay and COVID-19 protections to user privacy. According to a UNI Global Union representative, the protesting organizations represent around 40,000 Amazon employees.

During the protest, the powerful Verdi trade union in Germany was particularly active, organizing a strike at seven Amazon operations in Germany. Outside an Amazon supplier factory in Dhaka, Bangladeshi garment workers protest for better pay. In Australia, unions used their “statutory right of access” to conduct “health and safety” inspections of the company’s facilities. Many workers’ organizations have been forced to go online after being barred from picket lines and marches owing to pandemic restrictions. Others used structures in Brussels, London, Sao Paulo, and other places to project the campaign’s emblem.

On March 22, 2021, a 24-hour walkout occurred at various Amazon facilities in Italy, particularly in Tuscany, Florence, and Pisa. It was the first nationwide strike affecting Amazon’s whole logistical operations in Italy, according to trade unions FILT-CGIL, FIT-CISL, and Uiltrasporti. The walkout comes as tensions between Amazon and its front-line workers in Europe and the United States have increased as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The previous year, warehouse workers in Italy and other parts of Europe went on strike to demand that Amazon install more coronavirus safety measures. Workers around the country staged walkouts and protests to draw attention to similar issues.

Stuart Jackson, the communications director for Amazon’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa business, refuted FIT-assertion CISL’s that a large number of its employees in Italy took part in the strike. The action was only attended by around a tenth of Amazon’s 9,500 employees. “The truth is, Amazon and its Italian network of independent delivery service providers already provide what these groups are looking for: fantastic compensation, excellent benefits, and excellent possibilities for career advancement, all while working in a safe, contemporary workplace,” Jackson added. “The unions are aware of this.”

On 21st October 2021, Amazon warehouse workers on Staten Island, New York, planned to apply for a union election, putting the world’s largest online retailer in yet another high-profile labour dispute. The coronavirus pandemic has fueled a rising movement among Amazon warehouse and delivery workers to demand better working conditions, resulting in a slew of protests and attempts to organize. The group compiled a “list of demands,” including higher wages, safer working conditions, longer breaks and improved benefits, such as enhanced medical leave options and additional paid time off.

In an emailed statement, Amazon defended itself, saying it is working “to make a positive impact as a progressive, innovative, and sustainable organization” for its customers, partners, and employees. “Our jobs come with excellent pay, comprehensive benefits, and great career opportunities, all while working in a positive, safe, and modern workplace. We invite anyone to compare our overall wage, benefits, and work environment to that of other big stores and businesses throughout the world.”

The constant strike actions carried out by workers at Amazon all over the world between 2020 and 2021, begs the question of whether or not Amazon listens to the needs of its workers. That will be left for you to decide.

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