German union warns Amazon against pre-Christmas strikes

BERLIN, Dec 18 (Reuters) – German trade union Verdi on Sunday urged workers at Amazon warehouses across the country to support continued strikes in the coming days to protest over wages, aiming to disrupt the retailer’s business as much as possible online before Christmas.

The union said that in response to wage increases that had lagged inflation, it had called on workers at seven German distribution centers to withdraw their tools without notice during strikes that would alternate between different sites.

Amazon said the strike calls only affected a few of its 20 logistics centers in Germany.

Germany is Amazon’s biggest market after the United States, and Verdi has staged strikes at the company’s German sites since 2013 in a long-running protest against low pay and poor conditions.

“Colleagues are furious and don’t want to be taken for fools by a company that makes billions in profits,” the union said.

He said alternating strikes would hamper Amazon management’s attempts to prepare for shutdowns.

Amazon, which does not recognize collective agreements in Germany, said all logistics staff received wage increases in September.

Verdi said Amazon staff in Germany earn several thousand euros a year less than their counterparts in companies with collective bargaining rights.

Amazon said it pays its staff well and provides them with benefits and training opportunities. “The starting salary is from 13 euros per hour, including bonuses, with an average salary of more than 35,000 euros gross per year after two years.”

The union did not immediately respond to questions about whether its Amazon members had been voted to strike.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; edited by John Stonestreet

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