Amazon Workers Strike In Germany
Finally some news from my country of which I’m not ashamed for a change:
>>At the end of November, hundreds of Amazon employees in Germany began staging a series of wildcat strikes. On Monday, hundreds of workers again walked off the job in an effort to put pressure on the company during the busy days before Christmas. The Ver.di union says Amazon workers receive lower wages than others in retail and mail-order jobs. According to the the union, “The Amazon system is characterized by low wages, permanent performance pressure and short-term contracts.”
These complaints will sound familiar to American Amazon employees, who testify about constant performance pressure, on-site injuries, indifferent managers, long hours and low pay.
Back in February, Amazon.com was under attack in Germany for alleged mistreatment of workers following a television documentary that showed immigrant employees living in cramped housing under surveillance by security guards in neo-Nazi garb. Workers were promised €9.69, but upon showing up for work, learned they would only be compensated €8.52 ($11.37) per hour.
Amazon later said it canceled the contract with that security company whose guards were accused of harassing workers, searching their rooms and frisking them to make sure they had not taken food from the dining room, Businessweek reports.
German workers now plan to stage a one-day warning strike at Amazon logistic centers in Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld and Graben, and on Monday some of the strikers plan to rally outside the retailer’s Seattle headquarters in hopes of drawing in local union workers as well as sympathetic members of the public, the New York Times reports. […]
Amazon sales in Germany are skyrocketing. Last year, they rose by 21 percent, and the country is the firm’s second biggest market after the US, responsible for about a third of all overseas sales, the BBC reports. And while this is certainly a labor dispute over the familiar terrain of living wages, the Times notes there is also a bigger question of whether the warehouse workers should have control over their workplace. (Employees known as “pickers” assemble Amazon orders. These jobs are extremely physically demanding, and pickers are constantly monitored, and are not provided job security).<<
It’s also nice to see that local unions in America are openly supporting their German colleagues’s fight:
>>”What’s happening in Seattle is not a strike but an act of solidarity with workers in Germany,” Ms. Middeke said. A number of U.S. unions took part in the protest, including the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union, two of the largest U.S. unions. […]
In Seattle, a representative for the union federation AFL-CIO said about 50 people participated in the protest there. “About 10 different labor unions were present in solidarity with Ver.di,” Kathy Cummings of the Washington state AFL-CIO said.<<
But most gratifying for me was to read that in Leipzig at least some unviersity students showed up to express their solidarity (in order to understand why this is for me such pleasent surprise, I should add that German students these days are not only quite apolitical but also show usually only indifference for the labor struggle of low-wage workers, including the cleaning personnel in their own universities):
>>On Wednesday a delegation of Amazon employees, who are striking since Monday, vistited the students at the campus of the University of Leipzig. In the morning a delegation of 250 strikers arrived at the university and was greeted by signs and banners. One activist of the protest campaign welcomed the colleagues with a defiant belllicose speech, in which she emphasised that the students would identitify themselves with the labor struggle of the employees, because they were hit by precarious working and living conditions as well. […] “More and more people are living and working in this rich Germany under precarious conditions and can hardly survive on their wages. Amazon as global corporation stands symptomatically for this very business model – increasing profits at the expense of the wages.”<<