Amazon’s German Workers Walk Out Again

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For the first time in 2014, workers at a German distribution center for Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) have walked off the job over a pay dispute that has lasted for nearly a year. At issue is how Amazon classifies its 9,000 German warehouse employees.

Last May, 500 warehouse workers affiliated with the Ver.di union walked off the job at two of Amazon’s three warehouses in Germany. The union staged a walk out again in November. Monday’s walkout involves about 500 of Amazon’s 1,200 employees at its Leipzig warehouse.

The union is repeating its demand that workers be paid wages according to the national standard for the mail order and retail sectors. Amazon classifies the employees as logistics workers who are paid on a lower scale. The company said its employees are paid above average wages for that classification.

Amazon has offered to pay Christmas bonuses, but the union is determined to have the workers’ job classification changed to the higher wage scale.

When we checked out Amazon’s U.S. pay policies back in November, we found that the company pays its warehouse associates an average of $11.71, according to website Glassdoor.com. For a full-time employee that amounts to a little less than $24,500 annually. The total number of reports from Amazon warehouse workers is just 57, so the sample is pretty small. Thirteen employees also reported received a cash bonus averaging $1,027.

Amazon stock traded up about 0.9% Monday morning, at $341.43 in a 52-week range of $245.75 to $408.06.