German union launches new strike at Amazon warehouses

Union applies pressure over busy pre-Christmas period, demanding better pay, conditions
||Last Updated: 12/08/2014

BERLIN (Reuters) — Workers at two of's German warehouses went on strike on Monday as labour union Verdi sought to squeeze the online retailer in the busy pre-Christmas period in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

A Verdi statement said that about 500 workers joined a strike at a distribution center in Bad Hersfeld, saying that pre-Christmas special offers from Amazon were increasing order volumes and pressure on workers.

The union, which said it would organize more stoppages for as long as Amazon fails to meet its demands, also called on workers at a Leipzig warehouse to strike from Monday afternoon.

Amazon said the vast majority of staff had not walked off the job and were working hard to meet customer expectations. It said that deliveries should not be disrupted because it can draw on a European network of 28 warehouses in seven countries.

The American company employs almost 10,000 warehouse staff at nine distribution centers in Germany, its second-biggest market behind the United States, plus more than 10,000 seasonal workers.

Verdi wants Amazon to raise pay for workers at its distribution centers in accordance with collective bargaining agreements across the mail order and retail industry in Germany and has organized several stoppages since May 2013.

Amazon has rejected the demand, arguing that it regards warehouse staff as logistics workers and says that they receive above-average pay for that sector.

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