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Amazon reputation tarnished

December 19, 2014

German consumers may be spending more this month, but they are less likely to order from Amazon. That's because about a fifth of Germans disagree with the company's labor policies, according to a new survey.

Amazon strike
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Endig

Almost one out of five Germans will no longer order items on Amazon due to the ongoing labor dispute between the e-commerce company and its employees in Germany, according to a new poll released on Friday.

Communications agency Faktenkontor surveyed 1,000 people over the age of 18 and found 20.9 percent of those surveyed no longer wanted to buy products of Amazon, as they don't support the online retailer's handling of its German employees.

Analysts said a company should consider these types of effects when dealing with a labor union.

"This shows how strongly the reputation of a company affects its business," said Roland Heintze, an expert in reputation management at Faktenkontor. "Lower labor costs do not automatically mean more profit, if the company's image is damaged and customers stay away."

Fair Pay not Slave Wages - Amazon Employees Fight Back

"Not letting up"

Labor union Verdi organized a strike on Monday, when almost 2,400 Amazon employees walked out. They are seeking better pay and conditions in accordance with collective bargaining agreements across Germany's mail order and retail industry.

Originally planned for three days, the strike continued into its fifth day at six of the nine Amazon distribution centers throughout Germany, as the union hoped to up the pressure on the Seattle-based company.

In some places - such as Rheinberg, Werne, Leipzig and Bad Hersfeld - the walkout will continue until Saturday. For other places, the decision to strike will be reached later Friday.

Verdi said it wouldn't rule out further protests next week.

"The employees are angry that Amazon is playing down the strike," said Verdi spokesman Thomas Schneider. "For this reason, we will not let up."

Amazon has repeatedly rejected the union's demands, saying it regards warehouse staff as logistics workers, who earn above-average pay by the standards of that industry.

The company employs almost 10,000 staff in Germany - its second-largest market behind the United States - as well as more than 10,000 seasonal workers.

el/uhe (dpa, Reuters)