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Germany: Amazon workers go on strike

Workers are protesting the lack of wage agreements at any of Amazon’s eight warehouses in Germany.

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Workers at online retailer Amazon's distribution center in Leipzig on Dec. 11, 2009. (SEBASTIAN WILLNOW/AFP/Getty Images)

About 850 workers at Amazon warehouses in Bad Hersfeld and Leipzig walked off the job this morning, with more workers due to strike when a later shift began, the Financial Times reported.

The strike is a one-day work stoppage organized by the ver.di union to protest the lack of wage agreements at any of Amazon’s eight warehouses in Germany. “It is unacceptable that no wage agreement applies for Amazon, as the largest online retailer,” the union said.

About 3,300 employees at Amazon's Bad Hersfeld center and 2,000 workers in Leipzig are ver.di members.

The union said that Amazon pays its workers less than other mail order retail sector workers at companies in Germany that have signed wage agreements.

According to the Financial Times, entry-level Amazon workers in Bad Hersfeld receive €9.83 ($12.75), less than the agreed mail order retail sector rate of €12.18 ($15.80). Amazon pays entry-level workers in Leipzig €9.30 (about $12) versus the agreed sector rate of €10.66 ($13.80).

Amazon has argued that its distribution warehouses in Germany are logistical centers, not mail order retail warehouses, the Associated Press reported. The company said its workers are paid well for the logistical industry.

Signing a wage agreement with the union would also compel Amazon to pay Christmas bonuses and extra wages for working nights, Sundays and holidays, according to the AP.

The strike is believed to be one of the first strikes the US internet retailer has had to deal with, the Financial Times reported.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/germany/130514/germany-amazon-workers-go-strike