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Amazon Faces New Strike in Germany

Amazon’samazon-logo3 ongoing low-level conflict with German unions flared up again on Monday.

Reuters is reporting that some of the workers at one of Amazon’s distribution centers have gone on strike.

Hundreds of workers at online retailer Amazon in Germany went on strike on Monday, the first stoppage this year in a pay dispute that has been dragging on for months.

A spokesman for the Verdi labor union said about 500 of the around 1,200 workers at Amazon’s distribution center in Leipzig were expected to strike.

Given that Amazon employs a total of 9,000 people at nine different distribution centers in Germany (as well as up to 14,000 seasonal workers), this is a relatively minor issue for the retailer.

Amazon has been in conflict with a certain German union for some months now, and this isn’t the first time that there have been strikes. Three of Amazon’s German warehouses were hit by  stoppages in the 2013 holiday season; Amazon said that deliveries were not affected.

Verdi has been agitating for Amazon to increase what it pays workers at the warehouses to match the collective bargaining agreements for the mail order and retail industry, but
Amazon has countered with the point that they regard the warehouse staff as logistics workers who  receive above-average pay by the standards of that industry.

Given that Verdi has been unable to muster a widespread strike against Amazon, it’s not clear that the workers feel they are underpaid. On the other hand, Amazon does employ contract workers from other parts of the EU, and those workers might feel pressured to keep their heads down.

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