Thousands of workers at seven Amazon fulfillment centers in Germany are set to strike over working conditions and wages during one of the technology giant’s busiest weeks.
Verdi, the trade union organizing the strike, told MarketWatch that it estimates that around 15% of Amazon’s German logistics workers will walk out at seven sites on Prime Day, the busy two-day sale for members of Amazon’s paid subscription program. The union confirmed workers from seven centers were on strike on Tuesday.
After the U.S., Germany is Amazon’s
largest market, and it operates 15 fulfillment centers in the country.
“Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, employees have been performing at their best, often without adequate protection,” Orhan Akman, the retail and mail-order chief at the union, said in a statement. “While Amazon boss Jeff Bezos earns billions, the group abolished the allowance of €2 per hour that was granted to employees from March at the end of May.”
Amazon employees start with an entry level wage in Germany that ranges from €11.30 ($13.26) to €12.70 per hour depending on the location.
Plus: Amazon says over 19,000 of its employees have caught COVID-19
André Scheer, the secretary of Verdi, told MarketWatch that the union estimates that 2,000-2,500 workers will strike on Tuesday and Wednesday, based on prior participation in strikes and interest from workers. Scheer said that the strike would be carried out in a way so as to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
Amazon employs around 16,000 people in its logistics network in Germany, and said that “the vast majority” of its employees were working on Tuesday.
“Customers get their orders on time, the strikes have no impact on the delivery promise,” Amazon said. The company touted its “excellent pay, excellent benefits and excellent opportunities for career growth,” and noted that its work environment was safe and modern.
Verdi is Germany’s second-largest trade union, representing around 2 million workers. In June, the union organized around 2,000 Amazon workers in a strike action over working conditions that it said led to coronavirus infections.
Amazon has said that it spent $4 billion on “COVID-related initiatives” in the second quarter of 2020 “getting products to customers and keeping employees safe.”
Earlier this month, Amazon revealed that 19,000 of its workers had been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus or were presumed to have had the virus.
Read more: Amazon sought to hire intelligence analysts in EU spying row
The union also criticized Amazon over allegations that the tech company spies on employees, trade unionists, and politicians, after the company posted job advertisements for intelligence analysts.
Verdi was one of the trade unions, representing over 12 million workers in all, that called on the European Commission last month to investigate Amazon’s activities, including allegations that it surveilled its own employees.
Amazon said that “the job post wasn’t an accurate description of the role — it was made in error and has since been corrected.”