Amazon online retailer hit by strike in Germany | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 14.05.2013
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Business

Amazon online retailer hit by strike in Germany

Workers at two German Amazon locations have walked out in support of higher wages and to press their right to collective bargaining. The all-day stoppage is set to disrupt services in Amazon's second biggest market.

Workers at Amazon's two main logistical centers in Bad Hersfeld and Leipzig downed tools on Tuesday, the white-collar labor union ver.di said, but didn't give a specific number about how many of the about 5,300 staff working at the two sites participated in the strike.

However, ver.di was very satisfied with the turnout, said Heiner Reimann, the head of the labor union's Hesse regional branch.

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Amazon at center of exploitation row

The strike was preceded by a vote among Amazon's 9,000 workers in Germany in April, in which 97 percent favored industrial action to be held at the global online retail giant. Ver.di union is seeking a collective bargaining agreement for the retailer's 11 locations in Germany. In addition, it presses for higher wages that should be in line with those common in the German retail sector, rather than the lower logistics sector wages Amazon currently pays them.

Amazon claimed its workers were doing primarily logistics work such as packaging and mailing, and added that Amazon was paying wages which were on the upper end of those paid in the sector.

Germany is the second-biggest market of the US-based online retail firm after the United States and just ahead of Japan and the United Kingdom. Sales in Germany reached 6.7 billion euros ($8.7 billion) last year.

In February, Amazon was publicly criticized for maltreating seasonal workers from Eastern Europe who had worked temporarily at the firm's Bad Hersfeld distribution center.

uhe/dr (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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