Amazon Warehouse Workers In Germany Set To Strike Over Coronavirus Infections
Amazon warehouse workers across six sites in Germany are set to go on strike this week following concerns over coronavirus infections.
Trade union Verdi has called upon employees to strike for 48 hours, in the midst of a wage dispute that has been going on since 2013. Workers have long pushed for a collective bargaining agreement to ensure ‘good and healthy work’, and are now ‘stepping up the pace’.
Expressing concern at how Amazon have handled things during the coronavirus pandemic, Verdi have now accused the retail giant of putting profit above ensuring the safety of workers.
Germany is known to be the second biggest market for Amazon after the US. Amazon workers across the country have gone on strike at various times in recent years, pushing for improvements in pay and working conditions.
These latest strikes will be held at two locations in Bad Hersfeld, in central Germany, as well as at sites in Leipzig, Rheinberg, Werne and Koblenz. Beginning during the night shift on Monday, June 29, the strikes will last for 48 hours.
Orhan Akman, who is responsible for Verdi’s retail and mail-order industries, told Deutsche Welle:
We are stepping up the pace because Amazon is not showing to this point any insight and is endangering the health of employees in favor of profit.
Akman has stated there have been recent coronavirus outbreaks concerning ‘at least 30 or 40 colleagues’ at centres in Bad Hersfeld. However, Amazon has denied this.
An Amazon spokesperson told UNILAD:
The majority of our associates does not participate and we see no impact on customer orders. The fact that more than 8,000 of our over 13,000 permanent associates in Germany are with us for more than 5 years proves that we are a fair employer.
Everything the union demands is already in place: Wages at the upper end from what is paid for similar jobs, career opportunities and a safe working environment.
The spokesperson said, by the end of June, the company will have ‘invested approximately $4 billion worldwide on COVID-related initiatives getting products to customers and keeping employees safe’.
The spokesperson told UNILAD the company has ordered 470 million units of hand disinfectant and 21 million pairs of gloves in Germany alone, as well as 19 million units of mouth-nose covers and 39 million units of disinfectant wipes.
Health authorities and government officials will reportedly now be confirming whether or not Amazon has implemented the correct measures for the protection of associates and customers.
Amazon workers in the US have also protested in recent months over working conditions, The Verge reports, criticising the company for allegedly not informing workers after colleagues tested positive for coronavirus.
At least seven people in the US who had been working in Amazon warehouses have died from coronavirus since the start of the outbreak.
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