Europe News

Amazon faces fresh wave of German strikes

Alice Ross

Amazon is facing fresh strikes in Germany after pay negotiations with the country's second-largest union Ver.di broke down, triggering protests across the country.

Hundreds of employees in Amazon's distribution centers in Leipzig and Bad Hersfeld walked out of their workplaces on Thursday morning in protest against their pay conditions.

Peter Endig | AFP | Getty Images

Union representatives on the ground estimated that about 300 people in Bad Hersfeld and 400 in Leipzig had so far gone on strike, with numbers likely to grow throughout the day. Amazon employs around 9,000 people in Germany across nine distribution centres.

The US online retail giant was hit by a series of strikes across Germany in the December holiday season, traditionally its busiest time of the year. The retailer said at the time that the action had no impact on orders or its delivery timing promises to customers in Germany, which is Amazon's second largest market by sales.

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Ver.di has been in talks with Amazon for months over a collective bargaining agreement and a reclassification of employees in the distribution centres as retail workers, which would raise their pay. Amazon has insisted that the employees should be classified as logistics workers, arguing that they are not performing skilled jobs.

The strikes comes amid heightened scrutiny of working conditions for logistics employees at distribution centres. Zalando, Europe's largest online fashion retailer, was forced to defend its working practices this week after an undercover reporter claimed she had to walk up to 27km a day and that breaks were frowned upon. Zalando has embarked on legal action against the reporter, from television network RTL, after she used a hidden camera while employed by the Berlin-based start-up.

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