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Strikes

Ver.di announces fresh strike in dispute with Amazon

Key German trade union ver.di has asked the Amazon staff it represents to down tools in Leipzig, starting with the early shift on Monday. It's the second Amazon strike this month in a dispute over pay and conditions.

A flag of German united services union Ver.di is pictured in front of the logo of Amazon on a warehouse in Bad Hersfeld May 14, 2013. (Photo via REUTERS/Lisi Niesner)

850 Mitarbeiter streiken erstmalig bei Online-Versand Amazon

The major white-collar services sector trade union announced on Monday that it had called for another strike, this time only at the Amazon office in Leipzig. Ver.di is calling for a wage structure that follows norms in the mail order and retail sector, while Amazon currently uses pay and conditions from the logistics industry.

"We want to show that Amazon is not some kind of idyllic world, but rather a place dominated by great dissatisfaction with working conditions," ver.di's top representative in the sector, Jörg Lauenrot-Mago, said.

He called on local politicians to talk with the striking staff on Monday and to "visibly support" them.

Two weeks ago, Amazon staff - from logistical centers at Leipzig and Bad Hersfeld – downed tools for the first time in the company's German history. Ver.di said that around 1,100 staff, out of roughly 5,000 employed at the two plants, took up the call for action.

Ver.di says that Amazon does not grant holiday pay or Christmas bonuses, and that night-time pay rates only kick in as of midnight. Amazon employs around 9,000 people in Germany, at eleven locations around the country.

Amazon is the world's leading online business, and it's also the market leader in Germany, with an online market share in 2012 of almost one quarter. Sales last year totaled 6.8 billion euros ($8.8 billion), making Germany Amazon's second-largest market after the US, just ahead of the UK and Japan.

The company came under heavy criticism, including from Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen, in February, when public broadcaster ARD aired an investigative feature on poor conditions for temporary workers - mostly from abroad - brought in to deal with the Christmas rush.

msh/lw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)