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Amazon admits to 'limited' Black Friday strikes

November 25, 2022

Unions around the globe called for coordinated strikes in dozens of countries on one of the busiest days for Amazon. On Friday, Amazon acknowledged strikes in nine centers across Germany.

The AMAZON factory in the AMAZON Street in Germany.
Amazon acknowledged strikes in nine out of its 20 fulfillment centers in GermanyImage: Oliver Mueller/HMB-Media/IMAGO

Amazon acknowledged "limited" strikes in nine out of its 20 German fulfillment centers on Friday as international unions called for worldwide strikes to mark Black Friday.

Black Friday is marked nearly worldwide on the Friday after the US holiday of Thanksgiving with significant discounts. It's considered one of the year's busiest shopping days.

What did Amazon say?

A spokesperson for Amazon in Germany defended the giant retailer, which has been the target of global calls for protests in over 20 countries.

"As an employer, Amazon offers great pay, benefits and development opportunities — all in an attractive and safe working environment," Reuters news agency quoted the spokesperson as saying.

The company also pointed to a wage increase for Germany's Amazon logistics employees as of September. The new starting wage now stood at €13 (nearly $13.52) per hour, including bonus payments.

A truck with the logo of Amazon Prime Delivery arrives at the Amazon logistics center in Lauwin-Planque, northern France, March 19, 2020.
The calls for strike were less successful in FranceImage: Pascal Rossignol/REUTERS

A spokesperson for Amazon France denied any sign of disruption to operations.

French union officials told Reuters the cost-of-living crisis was pushing employees to chase overtime, thus hampering striking efforts.

Who called for the strike?

Earlier this month, the UNI Global Union, an umbrella group of labor unions, nongovernmental and civil society organizations, called for labor actions on what it dubbed "Make Amazon Pay" day, to counter Black Friday.

It called on Amazon employees in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, the Palestinian territories, Poland, Slovakia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK and the US to join the strike as a pressure tool.

Amazon workers go on strike

The union accused Amazon of "squeezing every last drop it can" from "workers, communities and the planet." The calls came as unions tried to negotiate with the retail giant for better salaries and work conditions for its employees.

Strike action in Germany

In Germany, the Verdi trade union called for strikes in 10 of Amazon's warehouses.

Verdi is demanding better working conditions and the recognition of the collective agreements of the retail and mail order trade.

"This is the first time there has been an international strike day at Amazon," said Monika Di Silvestre, who is responsible for Verdi's trade union work regarding Amazon.

The international strike day is important because a global company like Amazon cannot be countered "locally, regionally or nationally," the union said in a Thursday statement.

In Munich, activists from the international climate Greenpeace organization held a protest in solidarity with Amazon workers.

"This business model fuels the destruction of nature and the climate crisis," the organization said.

Amazon employs over 20,000 permanent logistics workers in Germany. Employees at the giant retailer's German operation have previously held strikes on Black Friday.

rmt/sms (dpa, Reuters)