BERLIN, Dec 18 (Reuters) – German union Verdi on Sunday urged workers at Amazon warehouses across the country to support rolling strikes in coming days in a protest over pay, aimed at maximising disruption to the online retailer’s pre-Christmas business.
The union said that, in response to pay hikes that had lagged inflation, it had called on workers at seven German distribution centres to down tools unannounced in strikes that would alternate between different locations.
Amazon said the strike calls affected only a few of its 20 logistics centres in Germany.
Germany is Amazon’s biggest market after the United States, and Verdi has been organising strikes at the company’s German sites since 2013 in a long-running protest over low pay and poor conditions.
“Colleagues are furious and don’t want to be taken for fools by a company that makes billions in profits,” the union said.
It said alternating strikes would hinder Amazon management’s attempts to prepare for stoppages.
Amazon, which does not recognise collective bargaining agreements in Germany, said all logistics staff had been given pay rises in September.
Verdi said Amazon staff in Germany earned several thousand euros a year less than their counterparts at companies with collective bargaining rights.
Amazon said it paid its staff well and offered them benefits and training opportunities. “Starting pay is 13 euros an hour upwards, including bonuses, with pay averaging over 35,000 euros a year gross after two years.”
The union did not immediately respond to a question as to whether its Amazon members had been balloted over the strike action.
Reporting by Thomas Escritt; editing by John Stonestreet
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.