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German union calls for strikes at Amazon sites over pay, working conditions

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Employees arrive at the amazon logistics center in Leipzig, eastern Germany, on November 1, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Workers at several Amazon factories in Germany have gone on strike to demand better pay and working conditions from the US online retail giant.

Organized by the Verdi trade union, the country’s second-largest union, the strike started at seven Amazon locations on Monday and Tuesday, according to reports.

The strike would last from between 24 hours to up to three days, said the union, without mentioning the number of staff likely to participate in the walkout.

Verdi said it had called the strike to demand a rise in pay in line with agreements the union has reached with the broader retail and mail-order industries in Germany, accusing the company of failing to meet industry standards for wage increases.

“It is unacceptable that a multinational corporation worth billions and (which) makes money hand over fist still refuses to give employees the wage increases that other companies in the industry pay," Verdi representative Orhan Akman said in a statement.

The union wants the US firm to recognize the collective agreements in the retail and mail order industry, and to reach an agreement over fair working conditions.

Amazon, however, has downplayed the staff walkout in Germany, saying in a statement that it was not seeing any impact on its clients as a result of the latest strike.

The US firm also claimed that it offers excellent pay, benefits and career opportunities to its workers.

"No one here earns less than €12 gross per hour plus extras," the company was quoted as claiming in a statement by Reuters. The minimum wage in Germany is €9.60 an hour.

Germany is Amazon's biggest market after the United States, with around 28,000 permanent staff.

Verdi representative Akman further said the company had to increase wages several times in recent years, under the pressure of the strikes.

"Under the pressure of the strikes, Amazon has increased wages several times in recent years. Despite this, Amazon still pays its employees less than comparable companies covered by collective agreements," he said.

Last year, a Verdi-led strike saw around 2,500 German workers of the company walk out on Black Friday in an effort to disrupt the company's operations.

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