German Workers Walk Out at Amazon Warehouses

Jeff Bezos
Source: By Steve Jurvetson CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
For at least the third time in 2014, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has been hit by a workers walkout at its German warehouses. Workers at two distribution centers in Bad Hersfeld walked out late Sunday night, followed by workers at three other locations early Monday morning. Amazon operates nine logistics centers in Germany and employs about 9,000 permanent staff and some 14,000 temporary workers.

The walkout is scheduled to end Tuesday night at 10 p.m. local time.

Beginning last year, workers represented by the Verdi labor union have walked off their jobs temporarily in an effort to bring Amazon to the bargaining table and to get the company to reclassify the warehouse jobs as mail order and retail jobs rather than logistics jobs. The former classification receives more pay than the latter.

Amazon neither recognizes nor bargains with the union. The company has had no comment on this job action, but in April it said that it pays workers above average wages for the logistics classification.

The union has said that Amazon recently offered workers at one location pay increases of between 2.1% and 3.0%. But the union wants a collective bargaining agreement and job reclassification. According to the union, Amazon pays its workers several hundred euros less per month than they might otherwise earn at the retail job classification.

During a similar walkout last November, Amazon countered the union’s demands with an offer for holiday bonuses, even though the company refused to talk with union representatives. The company insists on talking only to its own employee work councils. Amazon has never held any collective bargaining sessions with any union or group of employees anywhere, at any time, and very likely never will.

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