Amazon Workers Call for Strike on Prime Day in Germany

Prime Day is one of the busiest days at Amazon warehouses, but the profits don’t make it back to the workers.
June 21, 2021, 2:15pm
amazon worker

Germany’s second largest trade union, Verdi, called Sunday for Amazon warehouse workers across the country to go on strike as the retail giant launches its annual Prime Day. 

In a statement emailed to Motherboard, the union announced a strike at Amazon warehouses in the German cities of Werne, Leipzig, Rheinberg, Bad Hersfeld, Koblenz, and Grabenin beginning on Monday evening and ending on Wednesday. 

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“Amazon spends millions on advertising and earns billions in sales on the days of the [Prime Day] promotion,” Orhan Akman, a representative at Verdi, said. “The workers in the warehouses have to cope with a high influx of customers and don’t even receive a cent for the increased workload. The profits only flow into the pockets of the group and its shareholders.” 

The strike is the latest in a series of similar actions spearheaded by Verdi. In March, Amazon workers across Germany went on a four-day strike. They also went on strike during last year's Prime Day, in October of 2020. 

The workers grievances range from low pay to poor working conditions, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Verdi described Amazon’s pledge to increase starting wages in Germany to €12 euros an hour as "cynical and a far fetch from recognition and respect for workers by the company," and accused the company of only raising wages after strikes. 

In 2020, Motherboard reported that Verdi had been one of the targets of a surveillance operation conducted by Amazon’s Global Security Operations Center. 

In a statement to Motherboard, an Amazon spokesperson shrugged off the strike as the “usual situation we have in Germany.” 

“The fact is, Amazon already offers excellent pay, excellent benefits and excellent career opportunities, all while working in a safe and modern environment—the unions know this,” the spokesperson wrote. “There has been no customer impact caused by today’s action. It was limited to 7 of our 16 FC German fulfillment centers and at those 7 centers the vast majority of our employees are working as they do every day to meet the needs of our customers, including the small and medium-sized enterprises and German entrepreneurs who rely on Amazon.” 

Verdi is not the only organization to speak out against Amazon on Prime Day. In a press release sent to Motherboard, UNI Global Union expressed its solidarity with Amazon workers around the world, and said: “The Amazon system is, by design, chewing workers in and spitting them out.” 

Meanwhile, 35 organizations including Color of Change and Fight for the Future penned an open letter to lawmakers calling on them to end Amazon’s “Time Off Task” system, which monitors workers’ movements during breaks.