back to article Bad for Bezos: Amazon's German workers threaten pre-Christmas strike

Mega etailer Amazon may run into problems over Christmas in Germany, as services union Verdi threatens to strike when it will hurt the company most. "I would not rely on Amazon's site to be able to meet all customer promises before Christmas," Verdi's secretary Heiner Reimann told Der Spiegel. (Google Translate version here). …

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Anonymous Coward

Unusual to see the threat of strike action when German industrial relations are generally very good.

Oh, I forgot Amazon are not a German company are they, this cultural difference may be the reason why.

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Angel

Interesting explanation…

With all these loss-making factories, the German economy must be in shambles then!

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German labour legislation is stacked against strikes. More importantly, the presence of works councils means that employees are apprised early of how a company is doing and able to negotiate with management before it comes to strikes. Everyone knows that strikes are not good for business so everyone tries hard to avoid them, or restrict them to "warning strikes" of a couple of hours.

The reason for the problems is that Amazon is only prepared to pay people in accordance with the logistics branch, which is a lower wage than the catalogue shopping branch. In addition a lot of the employees are agency staff from other countries in an attempt to drive wages even lower. Germany has a growing problem with its working poor being paid too little to live on.

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FAIL

Actually, German Labour laws mean the companies usually cave in and make a deal to cut their losses before it gets this far.

What a load of crap!

The foundation of so-called Rhinish Capitalism is paying workers slightly more to get even more from them and guarantee the social peace. Companies that get rich solely by exploiting their employees as far as possible do not contribute to society and endanger the social peace. And Bismarck, not known for socialist sympathies, was one of the key drivers of this.

Regarding the car industry: the Germans have simply been better at batting for their jobs. Though, when it comes to Vauxhall/Opel the years of underinvestment by GM and global overcapacity means that much of the German Opel workforce are now facing the sack. This is cultural, though I think the British strategy of shutting everything down and leaving people to find new jobs in the 1980s was an example to many of how not to do things.

This is, however, not really related to the Amazon case, which seeks to exploit loopholes to drive wages lower. Still not as low as the ones the church likes to pay (for playgroups, schools, hospitals, etc.), but not enough to live off.

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@Casaloco

"German labour laws put ALL the power in the hands of the workers."

Good.

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Re: @Casaloco

You obviously never worked in the British Car Industry in the 1970's....

The Likes of 'Red Robbo' would call a wildcat strike just because they could.

We went out on strike once simply because the Shop Stewards office was moved to a different part of the Factory. The new office was larger and much nicer but that was not important. Out on strike we went. A show of hands outside the factory gates and that was it for two weeks.

Worker Power drove many of our largest companies into the ground. The Government at the time did nothing to help put a stop to it. After all they were the same government who cancelled my graduation ceremony 'to save money'. That caused my father to resign from the Labour party.

There is good and bad power. If a lazy worker sees an advantage they will take it. The trouble is that that little crack can quickly become a deluge.

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Re: @Casaloco

In a perfect world society would find a balance between worker power and employer power. Society seems to have no interest in "balance" of any sort.

Give the two possibilities - employers with all the power leading to a Victorian distopia or workers with all the power leading to slower economic growth as people stop become "lazy" and stop killing themselves for the sake of their jobs - I vote "worker power."

I fundamentally disagree with the notion that our businesses/economies/what-have-you need to be perpetually growing. I'm satisfied with establishing a "good enough" level of income and productivity that meets the needs of the workers to have a good life. Maybe some other nation that flogs their children and burns their old people for fuel will become more technologically advanced or own more aircraft carriers.

Oh well.

This is the 21st fucking century. We have the technology to be lazy. I say we use it for the workers.

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Luton makes vans now. As others have said last time I heard a news story about the German economy ... It wasn't doing so bad.

As these 'new economy' jobs like etialing and call centres become the norm its good to see workers getting representation. IMHO.

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Or in other words.. Amazon is being Amazon.

Is here any place where they don't demand longer hours in poorer working conditions for less money than the local norm.

Amazon are not a "nice" company.

Escalating and unachievable quotas.

Borderline, if not actually illegal dismissal policy.

And too many more to bother mentioning.

Good on German workers hitting them when it hurts.

Sitting back with popcorn to wait for some twit to come on and explain how this is actually because Amazon are American, and as such, are being victimised. Not because they are a crap company to work for.

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"Amazon are not a "nice" company."

Problem is most people refuse to accept that being they are so detached by internet shopping. They don't bother to read between the lines, just the bottom line of their wallet.

I've worked in one of their warehouses and you're basically walking regret to them. They haven't figure out how to replace you with a robot, and they have no problem letting you feel how desperately they want to.

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Re: @Trevor

>Give the two possibilities - employers with all the power leading to a Victorian distopia or workers with all the power leading to slower economic growth as people stop become "lazy" and stop killing themselves for the sake of their jobs - I vote "worker power."

I'm a socialist at heart. I really am.

However, I spent the first decade of my life in a 'worker's paradise'. Granted, that's not much. From what I do remember, though, and from the aftermath that followed (which was admittedly a very benign sort of aftermath), I'll tell you this. There has to be a balance between worker power and employer power, otherwise, you end up with an economy that's basically run by the sort of people who inhabit the less reputable corners of Tumblr nowadays - and I'm not talking about the porn bits.

You end up with permanently dissatisfied, nothing-is-ever-my-fault, the-world-is-out-to-get-me tw*ts organising a strike for every single thing, the most productive workers being mobbed for doing *too much*, as it makes everyone else look bad, and so on.

A balance is a must.

That being said, an all-worker-power clusterf*ck is mildly preferable to an all-capitalist-power clusterf*ck we currently live in. But only just.

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@That awful puppy

I agree that balance is a must. That said, people innately reject balance. Since we live in an era where one must choose an extreme if they aren't going to be completely marginalized, I choose the workers over the wankers.

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in these Bizzaro World times

since 'zon is a nonprofit corp anyway, a strike would likely only serve to raise the share price

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Anonymous Coward

Poland

Amazon are claiming to start recruiting for "up to" 15,000 jobs, of which 9,000 are going to be "temporary, pre-Christmas jobs" in western Poland. Starting in October.

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Please remember we are talking "Verdi" here not one of the real german trade unions. Those start with IG (Industrie Gewerkschaft). Verdi is a bunch of former civil service workers from the ÖTV (famous for the garbage man strike in 1992 that basically ruined ÖTV in the public view).

Wer? Die? is big on leftist rethorics and "Klassenkampf" and low on brains. The strike against Amazon basically centers on Amazon Logistics saying "We are a logistics company and pay BETTER than the Wer?Die? tarif" (True!) and Verdi wanting Amazon Logistics to be "Einzelhandel" and pay according to that. Einzelhandel typically means 3 years apprenticeship while the average logistics worker is given a two hour training and packs boxes...

Add in that the majority or the workers at Amazon Logistics is NOT in a union and the results will be:

Short term nothing happens but VerDi makes big amounts of hot air (basically the only thing they are good at)

Long term logistics for germany is handled from Poland

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