For "Black Friday", Amazon employees go on strike in Spain, Germany and Great Britain

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While "Black Friday" promises to be one of the most lucrative days for online shopping sites, Amazon employees launched a strike in several European countries on Friday (November 23rd).

Employees, many of whom follow the hashtag #AmazonWeAreNotRobots ("Amazon, we are not robots"), had already taken a major action in July during an Amazon promotional campaign called "Prime day". Amazon, which downplayed the size of the movement, defended its social policy in all directions, claiming to have created more than 25,000 well-paid jobs in the UK and coming to Germany as "An employer as reliable as good".

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  • Strike in its largest center in Spain

An Amazon employee on strike in front of the San Fernando de Henares center, near Madrid, on 23 November.
An Amazon employee on strike in front of the San Fernando de Henares center, near Madrid, on 23 November. SUSANA VERA / REUTERS

Employees at Amazon's biggest logistics center in Spain went on strike Friday, a day of super sales on the online sales platform. The scale of the mobilization in this center located in San Fernando de Henares, near Madrid, was however difficult to evaluate. Union sources claimed in the morning that the center was " stopped " while the multinational assured in a statement that "The majority of morning shift employees were working and processing orders".

According to Douglas Harper, a member of the trade union confederation Comisiones obreras (CCOO), nearly 90% of employees were on strike in this center where packages are sent to customers in Spain and Europe. According to this union representative, Amazon had diverted deliveries of goods to its 22 other depots in the country. According to the CCOO, this center, which opened in 2012, currently employs nearly 2,000 people on permanent or temporary contracts. The strikers are demanding better wages and working conditions and have already been on strike for several days this year.

"This conflict started because the company unilaterally imposed working conditions on workers" by removing rights, says Ana Berceruelo, also a member of the CCOO. Assuring that the strikers were asking "Negotiations", the trade unionist raised a problem of sick leave benefits. "Previously, when a worker was on sick leave, he was paid 100% during the first stop, now the company does not pay the supplement for the first three days", did she say. Mme Berceruelo also argued that the break "Snacks" thirty minutes was paid only half by the company, and that"Instead of eight-hour days, the worker actually works eight and a half hours to make up for that break".

For its part, Amazon claims to bet on "An open and direct dialogue" with its employees and offer them "An attractive salary, a range of benefits and innovative training programs". Work stoppages were scheduled for Friday and Saturday, on and after Black Friday, December 7, 9, 15 and 30 and January 3 and 4, 2019.

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  • Events in five British warehouses

In the United Kingdom, the British union GMB is planning demonstrations of hundreds of Amazon employees in five warehouses. The union wants to denounce "inhumane" working conditions, citing employees who do not have time to go to the toilet or a pregnant woman forced to work standing up.

On the contrary, Amazon claims that working conditions are good and that these centers record 40% fewer accidents on average than other transport and storage companies in the country.

  • Two affected sites in Germany

PATRICK SEMANSKY / AP

In Germany, the first service union, Verdi, announced that the strike was in the middle of the day two sites, Bad Hersfeld (in Hesse, in the center of the country) and Rheinberg (in North Rhine-Westphalia, in 'Where is). Employees are demanding a collective agreement. From Black Friday to Christmas, "There are a lot of overtime, which are less well paid than in companies with collective agreements"said Silke Zimmer, head of Verdi for North Rhine-Westphalia.

"As the vast majority of employees continue to work as expected, customer orders are not affected by the strike, replied Amazon in Germany. Many of our employees have been with us for many years, which proves that we are an employer as reliable as it is good. "

In France, forty people have also dumped Friday morning electronic waste outside the headquarters of Amazon in Clichy at the call of the association Friends of the Earth. They denounced the overconsumption and the problems of recycling appliances.

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