Amazon Prime Day Is Facing Employee Strikes in Germany — Here’s Why

Amazon is facing a strike in one of its largest markets on Prime Day.

German trade union Verdi has called on employees at seven of the e-commerce giant’s warehouses in the cities of Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld, Rheinberg, Werne, Graben and Koblenz to participate in a two-day strike as part of a long-running dispute over alleged unfair pay and working conditions.

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The strike coincides with the Seattle-based company’s annual online shopping extravaganza, which runs through tomorrow — after being postponed from its usual dates in mid-July due to the ongoing pandemic.

Verdi had also launched a strike during last year’s Prime Day event, and its battle with Amazon dates back to at least 2013. According to the labor group, the COVID-19 health crisis has exacerbated Amazon’s purportedly poor working conditions, and it added that a coronavirus bonus that was introduced for German workers in March was tossed out by Amazon in May.

“Since the beginning of the [coronavirus] pandemic, employees have been performing at their best, often without adequate protection,” said Orhan Akman, Verdi’s representative for the mail order trade. “This enormous additional burden does not pay off for them in their wallets.”

In a statement to FN, an Amazon spokesperson wrote, “Customers get their orders on time; the strikes have no impact on the delivery promise. Today our teams are doing what they do every day — delivering for their customers in an environment that’s fun, engaging and set up to help them succeed. The fact is we already offer excellent pay, excellent benefits and excellent opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern work environment.”

Less than two weeks ago, Amazon announced that 19,816 employees have either tested positive or been presumed positive for the novel coronavirus. The retailer explained that it had conducted a “thorough analysis of data” on all of its 1,372,000 United States-based Amazon and Whole Foods Market frontline workers who were employed at any time from March 1 to Sept. 19.

Based on the study, it estimated that it would have seen 33,952 cases among its workforce if the rate was the same as it was for the general population. Instead, it said that its positive case rate was 42% lower than rates in the general population, as reported by Johns Hopkins University researchers, plus accounting for the geography and age of its employees.

Over the past several months, Amazon has ramped up hiring as it records a spike in demand for certain products due to coronavirus-panicked shoppers. To meet this surge, the company hired 175,000 additional workers for full- and part-time positions in the months of March, April and May. It also announced in September plans to recruit another 100,000 employees for roles in its fulfillment and logistics network.

This story has been updated with a statement from Amazon.

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