Workers at the Amazon logistics centers in Spain and Germany staged strikes on Black Friday, an annual discount spending spree that marks the start of the Christmas shopping season, to demand better working conditions and salaries.
Workers at Amazon's biggest warehouse in Spain, San Fernando de Henares, near Madrid, walked out Friday and plan to continue the strike through Saturday. This is the fourth strike Spanish unions have organized against the United States-based Amazon.
Workers gathered outside the warehouse say there are only 20 employees inside." Douglas Harper, delegate of the Workers' Commissions (CCOO) told El Pais "There are 20 people inside and two in the docks." According to a representative of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), Moises Fernandez, 90 percent of workers have adhered to the strike.
Police sources told local media that Amazon Spain had requested police presence within the warehouse to stop workers from striking. The police reportedly rejected the request saying that ensuring labor productivity is not within their duties. Spanish law protects the right to strike.
However, Amazon Spain disputed the number, saying that figures did not reflect reality and a majority of employees were processing orders, Reuters reports.
Amazon Germany reported around 620 workers were participating in the strikes at the Bad Hersfeld and Rheinberg facilities but said the majority of employees were continuing to work and customer orders have not been impacted.
The strike is aimed at the biggest Amazon center during the busiest days of the year. Union leaders and Amazon have said before that they are willing to restart again negotiations to find a "peaceful" solution to the problem.
"We are entering the end of year spurt, the most stressful time for employees. Especially on a day like Black Friday, employees should be the central focus,” said Mechthild Middeke, a representative of Germany's Verdi services union. Verdi called for Amazon workers to go on a 24-hour strike until midnight Friday, demanding better pay and labor contracts that guarantee healthy working conditions.
Amazon Germany said it offers competitive pay and comprehensive benefits from the first day of employment.
Staff in Germany earn a beginning salary of US$12.23 per hour and after two years in the company, they earn on average a monthly wage of US$2,721.
Amazon's founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, is currently the richest man in the world with an estimated net worth of US$90 billion. The company recently announced two new headquarters in New York City and near Washington D.C. that will cost taxpayers over US$4 billion.
Black Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, is traditionally when retailers would begin to make a profit for the year - moving from the red ink into the black, thus the name.