Prime Day is upon us, an international holiday on which Amazon lures consumers with low, low prices for shit they don’t need, and advocacy groups plead with those same potential customers to think of the outrageous tax avoidance, union-busting, hazardous and potentially deadly working conditions, and the steamrolling of small businesses, just off the top of my head. And for Amazon workers, it’s a perfect day to walk off the job.
As in years past, the 2 million-strong German labor union ver.di, is calling on Amazon workers to strike for better salaries and healthcare. “Since more than seven years, the workers have been demanding a collective agreement for salaries and for health and security,” a ver.di spokesperson told Gizmodo via email. “Amazon is refusing to negotiate with ver.di, so there is no alternative than a strike.”
Ver.di particularly takes issue with an extra €2/hour coronavirus bonus that was introduced in April and then ended in June, despite the fact that coronavirus outbreaks were traced to German warehouses through the summer, causing Germany-based workers at six warehouses to strike. Even the short-lived bonus was criticized for incentivizing workers not to take sick days; ver.di is calling on Amazon to reinstate it as a permanent wage increase.
As the company has repeated ad nauseam, a spokesperson for Amazon Germany told Gizmodo via email that Amazon already offers “excellent pay, excellent benefits and excellent opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern work environment,” adding that their pay is competitive with other major employers in the same communities.
Entry pay is close to Germany’s new minimum wage of €10.45, to be implemented by 2022. Amazon Germany maintains that entry level wages range from €11.30 to €12.70, and after two years, monthly compensation averages €2,600.
It’s unclear how many of Amazon Germany’s 16,000 workers are walking off today; the Amazon spokesperson downplayed participation, writing that “the strikes have no impact on delivery promise.”
“Every time, when we go on strike, Amazon says that the participation is low,” the ver.di spokesperson told Gizmodo. “But the clients note the consequences because often they get their packages later or from Poland or Czech Republic. This time we calculate...about 2000 or 2500 workers on strike, the exact number we’ll have tomorrow.”
Amazon has estimated that nearly 20,000 of its workers in the U.S. alone have been sick with covid-19 this year. The company declined to share its figures in Germany but assured us that they’ve implemented the same cleaning, distance, and temperature check procedures that they employ in the U.S.
I’ll leave you with that, and also this:
Remember that? Just look at this guy.