INTERNATIONAL – Workers at Amazon logistics centres in Germany and Spain staged strikes on Friday, walking off the job on Black Friday, the discount spending spree that kicks-off the start of the crucial Christmas shopping season.
Amazon Germany said around 620 workers were participating in the strikes at its Bad Hersfeld and Rheinberg facilities but the majority of employees were continuing to work and there was no impact on customer orders.
Germany’s Verdi services union had called for Amazon workers to strike for 24 hours until midnight on Friday, demanding better pay and labour contracts that guarantee healthy working conditions.
“We are entering the end of year spurt, the most stressful time for employees,” said Verdi representative Mechthild Middeke. “Especially on a day like Black Friday, employees should be the central focus.”
Amazon Germany said its jobs offered competitive pay and comprehensive benefits from the first day of employment.
Staff in Germany earn a starting salary of €10.78 (R170) per hour and earn on average a monthly wage of €2 397 after two years.
Workers at Amazon’s biggest warehouse in Spain, San Fernando de Henares, walked off the job on Friday and will also strike on Saturday. Unions said between 85 percent and 90 percent of staff were taking part in the industrial action.
Amazon Spain said the figures did not reflect reality and a majority of employees were processing orders.
Black Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, was so named because spending in the US would surge and retailers would traditionally begin to turn a profit for the year – moving from the red ink into the black.