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European Business News
German Amazon.com Workers Extend Strikes
From the Wall Street Journal of Wed, 17 Dec 2014 10:03:02 EST
Verdi union placards reading 'warning strike' are placed in front of the Amazon logistics centre in Graben near Augsburg, Germany.
Verdi union placards reading 'warning strike' are placed in front of the Amazon logistics centre in Graben near Augsburg, Germany. Reuters

FRANKFURT—Workers at six of the seven German sites of Amazon.com Inc. that are currently on strike over wages will extend the walkouts, German labor union Verdi said Wednesday.

Workers at the online retailer’s sites in Leipzig, Rheinberg, Werne and at two warehouses in Bad Hersfeld will continue to strike until Dec. 20, including the late shift, Verdi said.

At the Graben site, industrial action will continue even longer, through Dec. 24, while workers at the Koblenz site will end the strike after the late shift on Wednesday, the union said.

The current three-day strike started Monday, with Tuesday and Wednesday seeing the first time seven of Amazon’s nine German sites simultaneously participated in it since strike action started in the spring of 2013.

Verdi and Amazon are at odds over wages for the 10,000 permanent workers Amazon employs in Germany. The union wants Amazon to classify the employees as retail rather than logistics, which would require higher hourly wages. It also wants Amazon to agree to negotiating wage agreements with the labor union—as is customary at large German companies—rather than dealing with local workers’ councils directly.

Verdi said more than 2,600 workers participated in the walkout Wednesday, when counting the early and late shifts. A spokeswoman said she couldn’t break down the numbers by shifts.

An Amazon Germany spokeswoman said she counted 1,100 walkouts during the early shift but didn’t have yet reliable numbers for the late-shift walkouts. She also said there weren’t any delivery delays because of the strike.

The Verdi spokeswoman, however, said delays had been reported, and test orders union members placed with Amazon had also been delayed

At this time of year Amazon in Germany employs another 10,000 seasonal workers in addition to its permanent workforce. It also has a European network of 28 distribution centers in seven countries, including new facilities in Poland, that can help deflect any impact from strikes in Germany, it has said.

—Sarah Sloat contributed to this article.

Write to Ulrike Dauer at ulrike.dauer@wsj.com



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