German Amazon workers strike on Prime Day, as concerns over anti-union tactics grow

Tuesday 13 October 2020

As Amazon faces intense scrutiny from EU lawmakersunions and the public over spying of labour activists, its workers in Germany—members of the union ver.di—are responding with a strike on Prime Day in the cities of Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld, Rheinberg, Werne, Graben and Koblenz in what´s long-running struggle for better pay, working conditions and respect. ver.di members struck over the summer after workers in Amazon’s German warehouses contracted the virus.

“These workers were up and at them before dawn. This determination is echoing among fellow Amazon workers across the world. Throughout the crisis, workers in Germany, a country that prides itself on employee participation, have again been locked out of negotiations, even on health and safety. Now, after they kept everything going through the crisis, Amazon rewards them with a pay cut by dropping the hero pay. Meanwhile, repeated revelations raise the alarm of spying at Amazon. We need more scrutiny and more participation, workers refuse to go back to low pay and no voice,” said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.

“Amazon workers in Germany and everywhere are fighting for better pay and decent working condition, but they also expect to keep their constitutional rights intact and have private conversations without Big Brother watching over as they organize online,” said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. “Amazon has failed to ensure workers’ safety, and we fear that influx of orders and the gruelling Prime Day pace will make a bad situation even worse.”

In addition to shopfloor demands over pay, safety and  union representation, ver.di also criticized recent revelations about spying of Amazon workers and attempts to keep unions out of the factories using secret service methods. “It is unacceptable for a company to flout the law,” said the Orhan Akman, ver.di national specialist for the retail and mail-order sector.

Shortly after VICE broke news with a internal memo from Amazon, trade unions from 15 European countries, including ver.di, have demanded that the EU Commission launch an investigation into the possible illegal activities of Amazon against employees of this company in Europe. European lawmakers also joined the effort with 37 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) submitting a letter to the company’s CEO Jeff Bezos calling for urgent action, days after European labour unions urged EU authorities to investigate the company for what they consider a “breach of European labour, data and privacy laws.”

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