Amazon warehouse workers in Germany continue strike actions in 2017: Verdi

A screenshot from the German labour union Verdi's website concerning strike actions they are organizing at Amazon.

Warehouse workers in Germany employed by online retail giant Amazon continue short-term strike actions in a bid to secure better working conditions and pay.

In January, at least 550 Amazon workers in Leipzeig, Germany walked off the job over two days, according to German media and the German labour union Verdi, which is helping the workers organize these strikes.

The union also organized strikes in December at multiple warehouses across Germany where about 1,200 workers at four locations went on strike in the busy lead-up to Christmas.  

According to Verdi representative Mechthild Middeke, of the eight warehouses in Germany operated by Amazon, six of them are participating in ongoing, periodical short-term strikes. Middeke says the strikes will continue in 2017.

Verdi believes the warehouse workers should be classified as retail and mail-order trades workers, a grouping that comes with a higher rate in Germany than the one Amazon pays.

Amazon has received criticism in the past for the treatment of workers in its warehouses — some also known as 'Fulfillment Centres' in Amazon parlance. A typical day may include up to 15 kilometres of walking and constant quotas, which workers describe as stressful and difficult to maintain.

Amazon, which started as an online book retailer, now sells everything from diapers to office chairs to hiking gear. It also launched Amazon Prime, where for an annual fee, customers get free, two-day shipping, as well as access to a wide variety of television shows through Prime Video. In addition, the company makes Kindles and owns 40 subsidiaries, including Goodreads and IMDb. The Washington Post was purchased by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2013.

The company announced in early 2017 that in the U.S. alone, they plan on hiring another 100,000 people.

Unifor 87-M President Paul Morse says that as Amazon takes over more and more of the retail industry, it is more important than ever that workers are fairly compensated and treated with respect.“Big warehouses can be fast-paced and stressful places to work, and employees should be paid — and treated — properly. It’s a multi-billion-dollar business, in large part because of what these workers do.”