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Workers at Amazon distribution centres in Germany and Italy strike on Black Friday

25 November 2017

Workers at a half-dozen Amazon distribution centres in Germany and one in Italy struck work yesterday to demand better wages from the US online giant in a protest timed to coincide with Black Friday.

In Germany, Ver.di union spokesman Thomas Voss said some 2,500 workers were on strike at Amazon facilities in the cities of Bad Hersfeld, Leipzig, Rheinberg, Werne, Graben and Koblenz. Also, in a warehouse near Piacenza, in northern Italy, a number of workers walked off the job to demand ''dignified salaries.''

The union has been demanding higher pay since 2013 for some 12,000 workers in Germany, citing lower wages than workers in other in retail and mail-order jobs.

According to Amazon, its distribution warehouses in Germany are logistics centres and employees earn relatively high wages for that industry.

Defending its position, Amazon Germany said it is a ''fair and responsible employer'' that offers ''attractive jobs.''

''The strikes will not affect us keeping our word to our customers, as the overwhelming majority of our workers are continuing their normal work,'' the company told the Associated Press.

The one-day strike was hailed in Italy by one of the nation's umbrella union leaders, the UIL's Carmelo Barbagallo, as having ''enormous symbolic value because it's clear that progress, innovation and modernity can't come at the expense and the interests of workers.''

Like the rest of Europe, Italians too have taken to the US Black Friday shopping event, a day of heavy discounting by retailers on the day after Thanksgiving.

Unions said in a statement that over 500 Amazon workers at the Piacenza site in northern Italy had agreed to strike following a failure to negotiate bonuses with the company.

Workers have also decided not to do any overtime until 31 December, covering the peak season for the online retailer which hires temporary workers during the period.

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