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Amazon is facing its third one-day strike in Germany over pay and benefits, as trade union Verdi gets workers in Leipzig and Bad Hersfeld to knock off work from 5am BST. The two sites, which house around 5,000 workers altogether, already held partial strikes when 600 Bad Hersfeld staff stopped work on 14 May along with 300 …

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Easy to pay

They can pay their workers out of the corporation taxes that they are not paying

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Joke

There is a couple of things that Germany loves:

1) Currywurst

2) A bank holiday on a Thursday followed by a "gap day"

3) A strike

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Also...

4) LEBENSRAUM!!

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Stop

Re: Also...

Godwins law, you´re out.

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Joke

For France, change 1) to Wine and for 2) also add having another public holiday on Tuesday so you have "gap days" on Friday and Monday. Awesome. Plus, August = le grand vacance

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Anonymous Coward

A strike

Despite strikes they are far more productive and successful than the average compliant, even shafted, UK worker. Goes to show that intelligent unions and business and mutual success can all go hand in hand.

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Re: A strike

Yes, that is plainly evident due to the number of non Germans working in the IT field over there.

Oh, wait..

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Re: Also...

Shove it, Jim.

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Re: A strike

"Goes to show that intelligent unions and business and mutual success can all go hand in hand."

Mutual success? Why are they striking you think? More mutual success? My money is on their greedy bosses underpaying them.

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The Germans also love......

You really have posted a load of Bulls**t"!

Thank goodness here in Germany the Trade Unions still have some sway in how much the general workers earn. If we did not have them, the workforce would be working for €5 or less as in some cases with the "Slave Labour Firms". (Tempory Employment Firms).

Amazon earns more than enough to be able to pay their staff a decent wage. One only has to see how much Tax they avoid paying as someone else here rightly pointed out.

The general workforce does not like to strike but so long as Firms continue to blackmail them (ie we will go abroad, or there are enough people without work that will do your job for less!!!). That amongst many other reasons is why the German workforce is left with no other choice but to strike. The measure of success that the Trade Unions have proves my point.

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Re: Also...

You completely ignorant idiot.

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Boffin

Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

I'm very doubtful that these shipping clerks are making minimum wage. I'd like to see Amazon simply close shop and move its distribution outside of Germany.

It's very easy to simply demand more money for less work. Europe is famous for short work days and lots of vacation time. But a successful business will not survive if costs are high and revenues do not increase to match the increase in costs. Amazon is a company with investors. No one invests in a company that losses money.

I'd like to see a union....any union, buy out a company and successfully run it. Remember the hostess company closed because a single union would not adjust to needed cost reductions. Less people eat hostess sweets and yet unions expect to continue getting increases.

Think now to the French tire assembly plant that’s been losing money and wanted an American company to take it over.....the CEO was direct and said no because French workers won't put in the hours necessary to make it a profitable entity.

Read: Atlas Shrugged to see how illogical our societies have become....expecting high/equal wages for basic or low job skills.

Read: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

"Read: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand", should have put that at the start of your post. Quicker for people to ignore, than have to read through it then realise they've been duped.

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Unhappy

Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

"I'm very doubtful that these shipping clerks are making minimum wage. I'd like to see Amazon simply close shop and move its distribution outside of Germany."

"Shipping clerks" - people who in your blinkered view don't count? And you'll be happy when the outsource economies creep up the value chain to your job (or those of friends and families), and your job is outsourced to whichever foreign location has the lowest standards and lowest costs? Germany has flaws, but it also has the lowest unemployment of any major European economy, it has some successful, innovative companies, and it generally treats workers responsibly, so I'd argue that the unions may have a point.

I've no particular view on whether the unions do have a case here or not, but your thoughts come across as "sack the slaves if they want food", and overlooks the significant material damage done by outsourcing and offshoring. There needs to be a balance against protectionism, but the implementation of free trade has gone so far that it now damages advanced economies, with the few benefits that it does deliver being the delivery of cheap books, and higher profits for a handful of companies. Your language suggests you're from the US, in which case perhaps you can explain how moving US manufacturing to China has helped the US economy? Your epic unemployment rate is on a par with Europe, and yet people like you want to shift jobs to a country with whom you are already fighting cyber-war, and a to a large extent fighting and losing an economic war. All in the name of cheap furniture and bigger profits for Apple.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

I've had to deal with some larger German businesses, and it's a miracle they actually manage to make a profit there. I'm all for worker's rights, but some of the stuff they have implemented is not terribly well thought out.

It appears employees can form a sort of own board in a large company which is able to influence company decisions, but without the matching responsibility for the consequences, and Ive seen some real howlers, like demanding reinstatement of someone caught stealing, in exactly the same position. Weird.

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Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

>>"workers won't put in the hours necessary to make it a profitable entity"

Maybe because they asked themselves "Profitable to who?". And in any case the plant WAS profitable. The company was simply moving abroad for higher margins.

>> "wanted an American company to take it over"

No, no one asked for an American savior... They were in the process of buying, changed their mind and explained it with what they could come up with. I've read the letter that the "American boss" sent, and it was compilation of idiocy, preconception and nationalism.

Did you know that thanks to "free" and "fair" market, there' no legal minimum wage in Germany and that some workers are paid 1€ per hour?

These modern day slavers will be crucified sooner or later.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

Are you clueless or just trolling?

VW and quite a few other German companies have up to 50% union representation on the board. Last time I heard VW was not a failing enterprise.

In fact, I am going to counter your statement: It is allowing unions a say _WITHOUT_ the responsibility (as in GM or some UK companies for example) which fails companies. As Germany proves - giving them responsibility suddenly makes the whole picture sane again.

As far as work days and vacation time - working long hours does not necessarily means producing more. Quoting "American Lampoon Christmas Vacation":

Audrey: He worked really hard, Grandma.

Art: So do washing machines.

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Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

I don't see anywhere the statement being made they don't count. Don't make it an emotional issue. Simple economics that a company makes X amount of money, they cannot expend more than that amount beyond profit lines which, whether you like it or not, keeps the people who invest money in the company happy.

As for outsourcing and offshoring, WE outsource to YOU. Amazon is a US company. It makes sense from their market stance to have regional warehousing I assume; which is why they are located in Germany. It seems to me you have a lower outlook on shipping clerks than the other poster as they nowhere reference them as slaves...that was your emotional plea.

The poster probably is from the US, which has been riddled by poorly run and corrupt unions, which hold complete industries hostage; even to their own destruction if need be. However you stand on firm ground that Germany has enacted a number of labor policies under Merkel which have kept you quite strong during a global recession. You're right, you're not perfect and neither is the US, whose government does seem hell bent on borrowing significant amounts of money from China while also allowing them to steal military secrets and perform corporate espionage. However, you should put down the stones. Germany's number one importer of goods (based upon a 2010 Unicredit Bank assessment) is in fact China. Seems Germans love the cheap stuff as well.

Rand did have some valid points, many which are put down by populations heavily invested in union and entitlement programs as they conflict. But another subject altogether.

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Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

Just a quick reality check here. Still disagree with the concept of unions. However, in 2012 GM was number one global in car sales and VW was number 2. VW has kept strong in the European market due to their expansion into...China. However, please read your local paper as you will find their Q1 profits just went south by 38.2%. Companies have poor earnings reports and hopefully it is an aberration as VW has performed admirably in their management of Audi and Porsche, as well as their global expansion. Although it does seem somewhat suspect that their operating profits declined 26% in the same period, which is attributed to overhead and labor costs...

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FAIL

Re: @Tchou

The Amiens plant was loss making (60m euros in 2011), and every time the managers tried to negotiate layoffs the unions dug in their heels and refused. Titan had been discussing a possible takoever of the whole Goodyear operation in France, but the unions (mainly CGT) blocked that. When Goodyear decided to close the factory, the government (Arnaud Montebourg, the minister for the bizarrely named "redressement productif") asked Titan if it wanted to buy just the factory.

When the Titan CEO complained to the unions that the workers didn't work much and had long breaks they told him "yeah, that's how it is in France".

That is what prompted his very direct ("do you think I'm stupid?") letter of response. The CGT have shot themselves in the foot, yet again.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

studentofman - Europe was in danger of becoming far more successful than the US that's why you lot pulled the plug. We'll be back though. We believe in free enterprise whilst also having a social responsibility, to the worker working hard to create profit and to the wider community. That's unlike the US where you seem to think that Amazon and others are some great benefactors upon the world and we should be in awe and grateful to the point of complete subservience to the corporation. No, business needs it's workers and the workers needs their business, it's a symbiotic relationship, not that you would understand that.

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Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

Oh dear, another clueless Yank. You do realise that you and your country are a laughing stock this side of the Atlantic?

"I'd like to see a union....any union, buy out a company and successfully run it."

Simples, Tower Colliery. British Coal closed it. The pit members of the local branch of the NUM union pooled their redundancy money and bought it outright, and - shock horror - operated it *at profit* for many years until geological problems forced its closure. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_Colliery

We'd like an apology, please.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

Your belief in the (ben)efficiency of *current* managements (as opposed to hypothetical ones run by unions) is touching...

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Happy

Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

Don't feed the troll.

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FAIL

Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

Hey Mr Studentofmice, when was VW bailed out by the government?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

You're giving business advice to the Germans? What country are you from? Better be somewhere that weathered the global recession as well as they did. But it's not, is it? You're an American. You caused the global recession.

Don't give business advice to the Germans - it makes you look even more of an idiot than taking Rand at face-value.

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Boffin

without the matching responsibility

The responsibility is in having a job there. If your employer goes bust, you are unemployed.

This is as opposed to executives whose only responsibility is to themselves and their bonuses. If your company goes bust under them, they will be allright. They have huge "tax efficient" savings and investments and will get hired by one of their chums who is misruling another company which they have no more idea about either.

Consider this please... How many of the top people at Lehman Brothers were without income 3 months after that organisation went under?

I don't know either but I have an uninformed suspicion that it is a very low percentage.

Anyway, why should the taxpayer subsidise Amazon in yet another way by providing low cost housing and additional benefits that would not be given if people were paid properly?

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Pint

Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

Part of the reason the union bakers at Hostess refused to take ANOTHER pay and benefits cut was because top management was awarding themselves big raises and bonuses at about the same time as asking the workers to make another sacrifice... Every time the top management changed, the new managers somehow found money for big raises and shortly thereafter for big bonuses for the executives... but when it came time for negotiations with the workers cried poor mouth... not a good recipe.

It's WINE O'CLOCK somewhere, especially in Napa Valley... where the wine auction raised $16,000,000 last weekend.

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Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

@GotThumbs

>I'm very doubtful that these shipping clerks are making minimum wage. I'd like to see

>Amazon simply close shop and move its distribution outside of Germany.

Which would raise the whole hairy issue of taxes across borders, i.e. arbitraging VATs, export- and import- duties, and redistribution and logistics for carriers inside Germany. And you should realise that Amazon does have quite a few competitors, so pulling up root and getting out would be somewhat deletorious for their image.

I think that it is about time that Amazon adhered to the common workplace standards. And it it does not make profit under these circumstances, there are quite a few who do.

Georg

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Angel

Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

>I've had to deal with some larger German businesses, and it's a miracle they actually manage

>to make a profit there. I'm all for worker's rights, but some of the stuff they have implemented is

>not terribly well thought out.

Well, given that co-determination (Mitbestimmung) is codified since 1976, yout'd think they'd ditched it if it were that badly thought out. However, it is actually seen as one of the factors that helped to build and strengthen the loyality that German employees typically have towards their employer and the willingness to support uncomfortable measures to keep a company up and running. For the employers, the model of tarriff-partnership implies a negotiation partner that will engage in negotiations not on a company level, but on the level of a commercial sector and acheive binding tarriff agreements with defined durations and levels that no single entity can legally flout. Over the last 15 years, this model served to keep wage increases down to improve competiveness, however, quite a few feel that this has gone far enough.

Amazon is not within such agreements, so it is within the rights of the Unions to force Amazon to the table with legal methods.

As for making profits, well, in the beginning of VW paid a premium of €7.200 for the fiscal year 2012 to all their employees working under these tarriff contracts, without strings attached and without any contractual need to do so. Porsche and Mercedes Benz did similar things. Something on the order of "we had a really good year, and we'd like you to profit from it." Think about the employer-employee-loyality that engenders.

Another little point: In Germany, typically the resignation period is three months. The employees are expected to fulfill their contractual work duties for their old employer until the actual date of severance and keep faith with the company. And they do. That actually holds true, too, if you are being let go for anything but cause, though there other agreements are often negociated.

> It appears employees can form a sort of own board in a large company which is able

> to influence company decisions, but without the matching responsibility for the

> consequences, and Ive seen some real howlers, like demanding reinstatement of

> someone caught stealing, in exactly the same position. Weird.

They are call Betriebsrat (Workers Council) within the private sector and Personalrat (Personell Council) within government service. The BR is represented in the supervisory board or board of directors in large companies. Yes, sometimes they go overboard. But they do serve to

HOWEVER...

www.iwkoeln.de/_storage/asset/58118/storage/master/file/518967/download/trends01_09_7.pdf‎, a study about strikes in OECD countries (sorry, German, but table 1 ist easily understandable) shows that in Germany between 2000 and 2007 the loss of workdays per year per 1000 employees due to strikes was 5 workdays lost.

The comparable numbers are:

France 103

USA 32

UK 30

You were saying?

Georg

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Re: Close down the distribution site and move the jobs elsewhere.

First of all read up properly about the employment market here in Germany, before you type your totally ignorant & biased comments.

FACT is that a great number of workers here in Germany have to apply for State Benefits so that they have enough to survive upon!!!! Just so you understand.....they get paid such a low wage that what is left over after taxing etc is under the exsistance minimum. Verstehts du jetzt? Do you now understand? Your comments are completely way off the the mark & completely insulting.

To your point about a Union buying a company & running it successfully, well you "ignorant" that is the case here in Germany!

I have spent over 30 years in the Trade Unions (although I am now retired I am still a member) & Shop Stewards Commitee, therefore I feel myself informed enough to shoot you down. Your ignorance is really beyond belief.

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Anonymous Coward

Once the Euro-Tax situation is sorted out

The German office will be one of the first to be closed.

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Go

I used to work for Amazon

And they are *horrible* people to work for. It is akin to slavery, more so than any other slave labour job I've had to do to pay the bills in my time.

Amazon are the worst employer I ever worked for and I really wish us brits would have the balls to take the same action as they do in Germany. Glad I got out of it (over 10 years ago - it's probably worse now in the current employers market).

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OK; there's one of two scenarios here; either the employees are being paid at least what they're worth, or they're not.

If they're not, and they think they're worth more than they're being paid, why don't they simply find someone else who will pay them what they're worth. If they can't find someone else to pay them more, then maybe they're just not worth any more.

I think it's a disgrace that labour laws are so one-sided. If the employees aren't willing to do their job in exchange for a compensation that they agreed to, then they shouldn't have agreed to it in the first place, and going back on such an agreement should be a sackable offence.

Unless I'm greatly mistaken, nobody held a gun to the workers heads forcing them to stay at Amazon, and I've seen no evidence that Amazon reneged on any agreements made. By going on strike however, the employees have. If the employees refuse to do their job, Amazon should be within their rights to offer that job to someone else.

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I forgot; disclosure: I used to work for, and still have shares in Amazon ( not in a management, or HR capacity ).

My experience was a stark contrast to "tentimes". I did see some political crap at Amazon, but all in all, I'd have no hesitation recommending Amazon to competent candidates who can pass their hiring bar.

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Short memory much

The magic hand of the market brings ALL prices down including labor. Seriously, read about working conditions in the early 19th century and the early 20th before the labor movements before opening your Ayn Rand fantasy inspired pie-hole.

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Look, don't take it from me that they are total monsters, go read one of the books penned by people who had their soul stolen working for them. The worst people were the HR yes men/women who just kept extracting more and more until the employees would quit, then the smiley faced HR representative would fool another drone into joining this "exciting, vibrant environment". Someone even kiled themselves shortly after I joined - totally burnt out after doing rotating shifts so that they did not know night from day. At least they knew right from wrong, in stark contrast to the manipulative management.

I'm 41 and have had plenty of jobs. Amazon were in a class of their own for exploiting employees and there is abundant evidence of it. Just read one of the many books or watch the documentaries. They even have regular articles on it here - remember the last one in here where they were forcing staff to work until they collapsed from heat exaustion, then the HR/PR people blamed the SECURITY GUARDS and fired them?!

Don't work for Amazon - they will steal your life force.

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Re: Short memory much

Have read them and am old enough to have relatives endure them. Unions helped to make some strides, particularly in blossoming industrial ages on both sides of the ponds, however their effects were more to drive legislation which has held businesses to maintenance of fair practice. Unions are now nothing more than self-serving parasites which feed on the fears of their membership. They are not needed anymore and need to be done away with.

You're correct, free trade markets are driven by earnings and competition; unions are not. If a company is unable to be nimble and flexible to market changes and downturns, they will go out of business. Unions become a roadblock to this. Imagine how much more you'd make as an employee without paying for monthly/annual union dues and imagine how much more the company could invest in labor if they were spending the money on lawyers to constantly fight union attorneys looking to show their constituency they're still relevant?

Rand's biggest failing is that the base premise of her theories is that all will behave in a manner that they expect nothing of another and will not earn something unfairly. You're right, those underpinnings quickly break down when you have entitlement programs, government backed funding of corporations and unions which use the labor force as pawns to line their own pockets and acquire power. Some of the best run companies I'm aware of have no unions and the employees are paid well and are happy. It is possible, but getting the bullshit rhetoric out of the discussion must happen first.

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Re: studentofman

So, from your post you have read much... would it be unfair to assume that you have no actual real world experience of working in large organisations? When I was young and naive and had only worked for small companies I thought much like you.

When I came to work for a large company where the management are almost entirely divorced from the workers on the floor I came to hold an entirely different opinion. The union system, working well, is vital to give the employees some weight. When I worked for a small company I could say "Treat me better or I'm off". In many large companies if one person says "treat me better or I'm off" the people who actually make the decisions won't even hear the complaint.

Sure the power of the union can become too great, just like the power of the management or the power of the shareholders or even the power of the customers. For an enterprise to work in the long term the desires and needs of employees, executives shareholders/owners and customers must all be balanced. At the moment in the UK I see the executives having too much power, and more strength is required for both shareholders/owners and employees.

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I don't have to read a book on what its like working for Amazon. I have almost 3 years first hand experience there, and nothing to complain about.

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So a typical viewpoint of a share holder!!!!!!!!!!!!

I say to you also, read up on the subject before making such a fool of yourself & insulting the workforce. Unfortunately you prove the point that shareholders are motivated by one only one thing Profit on the backs of the Employees. In other words "Parasites".

If you have no idea of the situation then be very careful of what you write.

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Anonymous Coward

The corporate tax dollars they saved to be used to pay their workers ... classic! lol

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I can't

really see why anyone is commenting on either side at the moment without facts. It's all well and good saying in England it was slave labour, or they're getting paid too little / too much. But we don't know how much they're getting paid, or what their overtime / nightshift pay is like so how can we comment on it for either side?

All I'll say is that minimum wage should be raised to a 'living wage' level so people can actually survive off what they earn. If the germans are getting below the living wage for their area then more power to them, let them barter for better basic pay and a decent bonus for overtime etc. If they're getting a living wage, then it's unskilled labour and in my view they should be happy, although they may still have a case on nightshifts / overtime if it's at a basic pay rate rather than time and a bit.

Of course this is all conjecture, so anyone here work for Amazon germany who can enlighten us to the working conditions and pay rates?

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Re: I can't

I know one thing: You don't know what I know.

Their working conditions and their pay is well documented.

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Unhappy

Re: I can't

I just finished a contract in Bad Hersfeld. One of the misconceptions people have of Germany is there is a minimum wage - there isn't. This region has a lot of very poor, unhappy people. The corporation I provided services to consisted of many stressed out, yet apathetic people, some of whom are now becoming violent towards "outsiders", but on the other hand I have seen a total lack of accountability there from quite senior people and it's hard to see why others under them should feel any differently. Oh, and it rains _all_ the time there, maybe that's why they are so miserable...

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Anonymous Coward

Not much more than sweatshops

Amazon has a history of using questionable working conditions and employee compensation. They might be able to get away with that crap in the U.S. but not so much in Germany. They'll eventually get the message.

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