Amazon warehouse workers in Germany, Italy strike on Black Friday

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Nov. 24, 2017 at 3:18 PM
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Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Amazon workers in Germany and Italy went on strike on Friday, a globally busy shopping day, protesting pay and working conditions.

The Black Friday shopping day, though originally an American phenomenon, is a attracting increasingly larger crowds in Europe. The three largest Italian trade unions joined one union in Germany on Friday in a strike at Amazon shipping hubs. The facility in Piacenza, Italy, was affected, as were German warehouses in Bad Hersfeld, Leipzig, Rheinberg, Warne, Koblenz and Graben. The workers were rallying support for higher wages and bonuses.

Germany is Amazon's second-largest market after the United States and the Verdi trade union said it seeks a change in company practices it says endanger employees. Italy is its fourth-largest, after the United Kingdom and France.

"We want a bonus because the company is having great results, and the profits need to be distributed," Gianluca Zilocchi, a local union organizer told the Financial Times.

Annamaria Furlan of the Italian CISL union had a similar statement regarding working conditions.

"The dignity of workers must not be trampled on. Amazon needs to open a dialogue with unions over industrial relations, employment stability and better salaries," she said.

But Amazon told TechCrunch that most of their workers in the two countries appear content.

"The vast majority of our employees in Italy and Germany came to work and remained focused on delivering the best customer experience. We are proud of our record of job creation and are confident we will deliver for our customers this holiday season," an unnamed spokesperson said. "Amazon is a good employer. We are committed to ensuring a fair cooperation with all our employees, granting valuable working conditions and a caring and inclusive environment in all our workplaces."

Amazon did not offer statistics regarding how the strike is potentially hampering deliveries on Black Friday.

The labor action comes at a time when Amazon's European operations are being closely watched for their impact on smaller retail businesses and their tax payments. Amazon announced a $550 million investment in German operations in 2016, dedicated to expanding its data centers and tapping into an Internet economy relatively undeveloped by European standards.

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