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Workers at German Amazon logistics centers on strike

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Amazon workers in Germany went on strike Monday as labor union Verdi pushes for reforms over pay and working conditions. The labor union was also responsible for three walkouts in June.

The strike began 10 p.m. GMT Sunday in two logistics centers in Bad Hersfeld in Hesse. At 4 a.m GMT Monday, three other logistics centers in Rheinberg in North Rhine-Westphalia, Graben in Bavaria, and Leipzig in Saxony joined the strike. According to Verdi, the strike is scheduled to end after the night shift on Tuesday at 10 p.m. GMT.

Addressing workers in Amazon's nine logistics centers, Verdi called for strikes as disputes between the labor union and company continue, pointing out that logistics centers must be given fair wages according to collective bargaining agreements finalized for Germany's mail order and retail industry.

Amazon isn't budging because it is arguing that employees in its warehouses are categorized as logistics workers, meaning collective bargaining agreements for the mail order and retail industry don't apply to them. The company also adds that these employees are already receiving above-average salaries given the standards in the logistics industry.

Amazon has also offered wage increases between 2.1 and 3 percent in Bavaria, a free state in Germany, but Verdi is not satisfied. "We will, however, not accept that the company arbitrarily dictates salaries. Only a collective wage agreement guarantees workers salaries and working conditions that secure their livelihood," said Stefanie Nutzenberger, a board member in the labor union.

In addition to fair wages, Verdi is also criticizing Amazon for using a large number of temporary contracts and lacking regulations for breaks. The labor union also slammed the company for imposing impossible targets in the workplace which a stress expert last year said could lead to both physical and mental illness.

Amazon employs 9,000 individuals in logistics centers in Germany. The country is the second biggest market for the company after the United States. On top of regular employees, around 14,000 seasonal workers are also seen by Amazon's German warehouses.

Strikes against Amazon are nothing new. Just last year, several were launched against the company for the same reasons workers walked out of its logistics centers in Germany Sunday. But yet again, Amazon is unfazed. Even when a strike in 2013 coincided with the holiday rush, the company maintained that their customers can keep on relying on them for the timely delivery of Christmas presents.

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