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Amazon Workers Strike In Germany As Christmas Orders Peak

Unknown Lamer posted about 10 months ago | from the price-of-free-shipping dept.

Businesses 606

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Washington Post reports that in Germany, Amazon's second-biggest market behind the United States, hundreds of Amazon.com workers went on strike just as pre-Christmas sales were set to peak, in a dispute over pay and conditions that has raged for months. Amazon, which employs 9,000 warehouse staff members in Germany plus 14,000 seasonal workers at nine distribution centers, says that 1,115 employees joined the strike at three sites. 'Amazon must realize it cannot export its anti-union labor model to European shores. We call on the company to come to the table and sign a global agreement that guarantees the rights of workers,' says Philip Jennings of the global trade union UNI. Verdi organized several short stoppages this year to try to force Amazon to accept collective-bargaining agreements ... The union says Amazon workers receive lower wages than others in retail and mail-order jobs and that other retailers pay overtime, but Amazon does not. 'What Amazon is doing is taking this American race-to-the-bottom roadshow to Germany and trying it out on our German brothers and sisters,' says David Freiboth. Amazon has defended its wage policies, saying that employees earn toward the upper end of the pay scale of logistics companies in Germany. Amazon also says it prefers to address employment issues with worker councils at individual sites rather than through negotiations with the union. Amazon says that there have been no delays to deliveries ... adding that Amazon uses its whole European logistics network during the Christmas period to ensure delivery times. A delegation of German workers was set to rally at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle along with U.S. unions. 'We're standing in solidarity with them. We are asking that Amazon respect the union there in Germany and negotiate in a way that is acceptable to Verdi,' says Kathy Cummings of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which was also attending the protest in Seattle."

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FUCK YOU Amazon.com! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45712835)

FUCK YOU Amazon.com!

Ungrateful krauts (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45712837)

Seriously, if you don't want the work don't take it. Nobody forces you to work at Amazon

Re:Ungrateful krauts (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45712873)

Naive little American, how's your minimum wage that just keeps shrinking and shrinking working out for your economy?

Re:Ungrateful krauts (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45712941)

Naive little American, how's your minimum wage that just keeps shrinking and shrinking working out for your economy?

Just fine, for those of us who aren't useless and actually worked to better ourselves and our position.

Maybe you shouldn't pump out multiple kids and buy the latest flashy cellphone and other trendy bullshittery if you're stupid to the point of working a minimum wage job after the age of eighteen.

"But AC!" you cry, "Bettering myself and my position is hard! I'd have to like, study, and not have time to sit around mindlessly consuming mah cable TV while I've got a giant dildo up my asshole!"

Baaaaaw.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45712965)

So hows's your massive student debt and your shitty economy helping you and your slightly above minimum wage job then?

Re:Ungrateful krauts (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713049)

You don't understand how this works.

In Europe, *we don't want useless workers*. It is better that they are unemployed than that they do work that a robot should do.

Because of this strike, Amazon will accellerate their robot deployment, and that is *exactly* what Europe want.

I repeat, we don't want useless workers. The social security system requires workers to have a certain productivity, and this excludes certain low paid jobs.

Sorry, but those jobs should go offshore.

What many Americans don't understand is the true opportunity cost of a shitty job. You can either get your workforce to be productive through poverty as in the US, or you can get your workforce to be productive by eliminating unproductive jobs. The latter is what Europe wants to do.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713135)

Yea cause most of Europe is doing SO economically well...

Re:Ungrateful krauts (4, Informative)

geogob (569250) | about 10 months ago | (#45713283)

Actually, things are pretty fine in Germany.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

sureshot007 (1406703) | about 10 months ago | (#45713175)

Can you site a source for this that would explain it to me? I don't understand how eliminating the shitty jobs you don't want to do will magically make more awesome jobs available to everyone else.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 10 months ago | (#45713293)

Not a source, but the theory is that by emphasizing high-end and high-paying jobs, and making a business environment that supports those higher wages, there is tax money available for education and social services that support the skills needed for those high-end jobs. Eventually, the society settles into a pattern where people live with little personal risk early in their careers (when they can't afford a catastrophe), and they're secure enough later on that they can help pay for others' security.

As an example case, I recently heard about a friend-of-a-friend who lives in Denmark (I think), and got free education, healthcare, and various other support services while he was a student. After entering the work force as an engineer, he now makes enough to live comfortably while gladly paying 60% in taxes.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

sureshot007 (1406703) | about 10 months ago | (#45713331)

That's all well and good, if you have a society of engineers. But what happens to those that can't graduate university?

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1, Insightful)

nharmon (97591) | about 10 months ago | (#45713199)

OMG. If that is what Europe really wants, then they can keep it. Maybe they don't realize that workers don't magically become "productive" out of the womb. Nor do they when someone hands them a diploma. Productivity increases with experience.

By saying a nation should only employ productive workers and leave the unproductive unemployed, you are effectively saying that anyone young should just be a dependent of the state while older people get to reap the benefits of labor shortages.

So what happens when your older "productive" workers all retire? All of those "unproductive" young people you wanted to keep unemployed will still be unproductive. I suppose you could just import productive immigrants. But eventually nobody will want to come to your country because you're going to have to tax most of their pay in order to support the multitudes of unproductive people in your country.

No. I think I prefer America's way of doing things. We provide subsidies to our low-wage earners in the hopes that they increase their productivity through experience. It isn't perfect, but it is at least sustainable.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45713209)

You can either get your workforce to be productive through poverty as in the US, or you can get your workforce to be productive by eliminating unproductive jobs. The latter is what Europe wants to do.

You're stealing a page from our playbook. What a shame we abandoned it 30 years ago. BTW, keep using it - it works very well.

P.S. I just realized "stealing a page from our playbook" is an American idiom that may not translate well. Oddly, I couldn't find a definition on the Internet, but roughly it means using an idea or approach that the other team or group used first.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | about 10 months ago | (#45713067)

I agree with the trendy bullshitery but no kids? The world population needs to shrink but making it a requirement for people not intelligent enough to "better themselves" to not reproduce shreaks of eugenics. Stupid enough also includes people that screwed up their lives with unplanned parenthood before they went to college, live in small towns were Walmart is THE job, didn't have sufficient savings at the time things went to hell on them (and never will have at part time minimum wage) to move somewhere else with better opportunities etc.

A big party of the bullshit are all the econimist groups and business magazines claiming they need to stimulate consumer spending to get the economy going. You need some spending obviously but they try to make the poor feel guilty when they try to gather together a few thousand in net worth rather than buy the latest trendy bullshitery in order to ensure Big Corps required earnings growth.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713093)

"But AC!" you cry, "Bettering myself and my position is hard! I'd have to like, study, and not have time to sit around mindlessly consuming mah cable TV while I've got a giant dildo up my asshole!"

Studying is not a guarantee of success, as many unemployed individuals who bettered themselves by obtaining graduate degrees will tell you.

There's only one guaranteed method of bettering your position in life: be lucky. So, exactly how many cocks did you suck to get where you are today, Lucky?

Re:Ungrateful krauts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713159)

Studying is not a guarantee of success, as many unemployed individuals who bettered themselves by obtaining graduate degrees will tell you.

Bettered themselves? This "Everybody's gotta go to college!" nonsense is making colleges and universities worse. They lower their standards to let in trash that wouldn't have been accepted in the past and everyone suffers for it. Additionally, most of the garbage that colleges and universities pump out is just that: trash.

There are many, many losers who go to college not to educate themselves (most could do that with the Internet or with books if they weren't so unmotivated and unintelligent), but because they believe it will help them get a job; that's not what education is about.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713277)

Education is about bettering yourself. If all you want is to get a job, lie on your resume and suck a lot of cocks.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1, Flamebait)

L. J. Beauregard (111334) | about 10 months ago | (#45713301)

Maybe you shouldn't pump out multiple kids

How's defunding Planned Parenthood working out for you?

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45712949)

I dunno. Seems to be doing pretty good to squeeze out opportunities for the unskilled. Why hire 3 unskilled people when I can only afford 1 because of government mandate?

Sorry folks... there are only so many rungs that the government will allow us to put out there. The rest of you can FOAD.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713023)

You would like them to, but they dont FOAD.

They get welfare and food stamps and employment assistance, and guess where all the money for that comes from.....Your taxes.
Your paying them to live anyway, you may as well get some work out of them.

Re: (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 10 months ago | (#45713195)

So what you are saying is that the minimum wage jobs are working out quite well for them?

I agree that welfare in the US allows companies to not pay a living wage to employees and it effectivly subsidizes those companies. But that is the result of half assed socialism not the companies taking advantage of it. Without those social services making up the differences, those jobs would either be relegated to extra money jobs, jobs for kids looking for experience, or gone altogether. It only becomes a problem when it distorts the job markets to the point that minimum wage jobs become career opertunities. This is compounded by the increasing concept of single person/parent households and the ever increasing expectations of them.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45712983)

It's going great! Soon, Americans won't be able to afford to buy useless crap from Amazon. Hope Amazon likes its shrinking American market!

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713095)

There's no minimum wage in Germany, so your point is unclear.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713235)

Maybe you can go and find out when the last time the minimum wage went down instead of up and get back to us

Re:Ungrateful krauts (0)

Njovich (553857) | about 10 months ago | (#45712893)

If you don't want the business in Europe don't take it. Nobody forces you to sell your stuff in Germany.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#45712939)

And if Amazon doesn't want to pay them that sort of wage, they can get out of Germany. Nobody's forcing them to do business there.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

JeffOwl (2858633) | about 10 months ago | (#45713113)

I don't understand this attitude. (Applies here and to the AC OP). This is a negotiation. Both parties have skin in the game. This shouldn't be viewed as an all or nothing proposition. These are the only the starting positions. This shouldn't be emotional; it certainly isn't for Amazon. If a solution can be had that is at least acceptable to both parties then it will be reached. The worst case scenario is that they can't agree and Amazon pulls back to other neighboring countries, while shipping products into Germany from the outside. But this will only happen if the workers in Germany are unwilling to negotiate and push the cost of doing business there up over the combined cost of doing business elsewhere and shipping stuff into Germany from the outside.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (2)

bagorange (1531625) | about 10 months ago | (#45713207)

Amazon are also terrified of any kind of precedent being set.

Their model is to cut all possible worker benefits to the bone; maintain a tax presence in only the friendliest, most cowed regimes while selling to people in better countries with functioning goverments and put a shiny face to the world in their shitty website.

Mail order (web shopping is mail order) is only useful in these circumstances - if you have a stay at home spouse, if you work at home, or for items small enough to fit through your door. Who wants to buy from a website for something big - who do I take it back to if it breaks? One of Amazon's "trusted partners"?

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#45713243)

Of course, this was meant as a dismissal of the AC OP's fatuous argument, not a stance on the issue.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about 10 months ago | (#45713279)

Or they could create separate staffing companies and hire temp workers with few regular workers.

But it is no wonder companies have so much anymosity towards employees when they pick the busiest time of the year to stop work. It completely smacks of the we want to hurt you vibe that is generally met with hostile return. I bet someone is attempting to find ways to fire the lot of the strikers without violating law.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45712957)

Yes yes, we should work less, get more pay and consume more. That's the current criticism of the German competitiveness driving other European countries into debt, isn't it? I guess we're wrong if we do and wrong if we don't. Or do they mean, we should work cheaply for US companies and demand more pay from German companies? After all, Amazon does not contribute to Germany's export surplus. They hardly make any money, if their accounting is to be believed. IMHO Amazon ought to be shut down as a business, as it must clearly be seen as Bezos' hobby if it is unprofitable. Then they can't deduct their "business" expenses anymore.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

Sad Loser (625938) | about 10 months ago | (#45712979)

I buy German cars, because the engineering skill adds significant value but if they are trying to get all logistics moved to Poland or Hungary then they are doing the right thing.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45713317)

if they are trying to get all logistics moved to Poland or Hungary then they are doing the right thing

Poland or Hungary? Try Alabama or South Carolina. The labor isn't quite as cheap as Eastern Europe, but shipping costs to the US market are less. That's right folks, to Daimler-Benz and BMW the US is a cheap labor country.

Naturally some clever soul will say that if it wasn't for the cheaper labor in the US, we wouldn't have those jobs at all. Bull. The US is an important enough market that we could twist arms to get a lot of the work done here. That's how Japanese car plants originally got here.

Aren't you proud of America for having an approach that makes us a cheap labor country? Naturally some other clever soul will wax nostalgic for a past golden age, and say that's what made American industry great. Bull - the only place that golden age ever existed is in ideologues heads. 100+ years ago the US was well known for having much higher labor rates than Europe, and it doesn't seem like we did so badly. The same was true in the 50's and 60's, but the 100+ year ago example proves that it wasn't just a post-WWII fluke.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45712989)

Nobody forces you to work at Amazon

Nobody, except the Bundesagentur für Arbeit. With the current unemployment rate, your options are "Amazon" or "starve", as your unemployment benefits will be cut quickly.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45713335)

Bundesagentur für Arbeit

I think I know what you're talking about, but a little translation wouldn't hurt.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (5, Insightful)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 10 months ago | (#45713011)

Seriously, if you don't want the work don't take it. Nobody forces you to work at Amazon

And, what the hell do you think a strike is, anyway?

Re:Ungrateful krauts (5, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 10 months ago | (#45713033)

And, what the hell do you think a strike is, anyway?

Posted here already, so I can't give you mod points. But really, this American attitude is quite idiotic. Wages are always negotiated. Sometimes one side is more powerful, sometimes it's not. Walmart left Germany with its tail between its legs, and what a loss is it for the country! (If anyone thinks Walmart makes low prices, Aldi and Lidl do that a lot better while actually providing quality products _and_ paying their employees decent wages). Nobody will shed a tear if Amazon does the same.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713291)

Aldi Lidl quality products

lolwut?

Re:Ungrateful krauts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713109)

Seriously, if you don't want the work don't take it. Nobody forces you to work at Amazon

And, what the hell do you think a strike is, anyway?

A strike is a bunch of people deciding to take unauthorized unpaid vacation at the same time, not a bunch of people quitting their jobs.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 10 months ago | (#45713015)

Seriously, if you don't want to pay appropriate wages, stay out of Germany. Nobody forces you to sell in Germany.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 10 months ago | (#45713165)

If the strike becomes a problem, Amazon will continue to sell in Germany. They just won't EMPLOY anyone in Germany. If that happens they will ship to Germany from distribution centers based elsewhere.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 10 months ago | (#45713275)

That will be harder, since I am fairly certain the shipping prices would be prohibitive, especially things like having to go through customs. Just doing a simple UPS check from sending from my address to Vancouver costs 2x as much as from my address to LA, for the lowest tier service.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (0)

jafiwam (310805) | about 10 months ago | (#45713029)

This will just hasten the coming of the robots.

I assume the communist state of germany will have all kinds of laws against outright firing everybody. But, being replaced by a robot is probably not protected.

Good luck idiots! Ya'll should have gotten a job at McDonalds or Wal-Mart (Or as you guys call it, "Aldi")

Re:Ungrateful krauts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713065)

Actually, Aldi employees are about two steps higher in the food chain compared to McD or Wal-Mart workers.
Source: I have lived in both countries.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 10 months ago | (#45713091)

Yes because as someone looking for a job you should have absolutely no say in what your pay is..... You, sir, are the idiot.

The robots are coming no more faster than they were already, because amazon does not want to have to pay you a dime in the first place.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 10 months ago | (#45713201)

Not sure if trolling or serious. I mean, even GDR was merely socialist.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 10 months ago | (#45713043)

Why should a worker be grateful to their employers? They do work, they get paid for part of the value of their work (if they got paid the full value of their work, it wouldn't be profitable for their employer to hire them). While this might be a mutually beneficial business arrangement, I'm hard-pressed to see why the employer is doing the worker a favor or otherwise giving them something that they aren't earning, which is my usual standard for being grateful.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713047)

Yeah, we see how that worked out in the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave where amazon comes from.

People working two or three minimum-wage jobs to make their living. No thank you very much, this is not for us. We like our workers' councils, our unions, our by law regulated rights of employees - if amazon does not like that they can fuck off. I have no problem my stuff being one or two europs more expensive than it is now if just all the workers are paid fairly, have their vacations and are treated as humans at their workplace and not as cattle or slaves owned by some corporation.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (3, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | about 10 months ago | (#45713185)

Business is war, not a matter of "gratitude" because employment isn't a "gift".
Collective bargaining is the only way otherwise valueless workers have leverage. One ant is nothing, but an army of ants is very different.

Americans are carefully indoctrinated nowadays to lick corporate boots, no surprise since business owns the US. Mistakes by unions (who BTW were FORCED to get in bed with the Mob back when business utterly owned the politicians and the cops leaving them zero alternative) certainly hurt them, but that in no way invalidates the utility of collective bargaining. Some of us bothered to read more labor history than is taught in school. I suggest that to others so you can draw your own conclusions.
Workers are not the enemy, business is not the enemy, but to have an equitable relationship to BARGAIN each must have power. The only way workers can have power is collective bargaining unless they are specially skilled AND in short supply.

Re:Ungrateful krauts (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 10 months ago | (#45713253)

It's not that simple. Unemployment insurance in Europe, as in the US, is not payable if you quit, only if you get laid off.

If you get offered a job at Amazon, think "hey this sounds great" and it turns out you're working 12 hours a day you're pretty much stuck with the job waiting for something new. But trying to find a new job is difficult because interviews require time off. Even if you piss through all your vacation, it still might not be enough. Because, remember, your vacation is going to be pro rated since you just started.

So you start this nice new job, with hellish conditions, no overtime, and no option of losing it. Who can blame them for striking?

Robots (4, Insightful)

Qubit (100461) | about 10 months ago | (#45712855)

I sense a whole lot more of them in Amazon's (near) future...

Re:Robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45712907)

That is precisely correct. People who fill boxes for shipping can be eventually replaced.

Amazon is getting robot workers for christmas (5, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 10 months ago | (#45712857)

they're already doing it pretty heavily... this sort of thing... striking in the middle of a christmas season... it inspires drastic steps.

Re:Amazon is getting robot workers for christmas (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#45712929)

With Amazon's margins they can't afford to be either petty or merciful. They'll switch to robots as soon as it is quantitatively advantageous to do so, regardless of what the workers are doing.

Re:Amazon is getting robot workers for christmas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713005)

And that is exactly how the unions want it.

Being replaced by robots is a good thing. It is not replacing humans by robots that is inhumane and stifles progress.

As is often heard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45712881)

Unten Gleben Glauben Globen

translation: what goes around comes around

Re:As is often heard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45712987)

It's better to burn out than fade away.

American race to the bottom roadshow (4, Insightful)

waspleg (316038) | about 10 months ago | (#45712905)

How apt. It's too bad Americans can't see this but Germans can.

Re:American race to the bottom roadshow (1)

speedlaw (878924) | about 10 months ago | (#45713045)

American workers have been forced to compete with the third world. Why should Germans be surprised that companies want to do this to them. It is not about nations, it is now about how corporations can destroy wage bases and workers benefits. US Amazon does NOT have a Union.....luckily the German state has a place for worker's organization. I hope German workers stand firm.

Re:American race to the bottom roadshow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713313)

More specifically, the germans have an option. Compete with eastern eurpopeans on price, or accept the pollution that comes with moving the fulfillment centers east. Give you a hint, Amazon is already doing that to compensate for the strike.

is this how Amazon keeps prices low? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45712909)

Does AWS also employ slave labor?

Re:is this how Amazon keeps prices low? (1)

Junta (36770) | about 10 months ago | (#45713001)

In relative terms, AWS is not the cheapest nor is it the fastest. It might have the 'best' api (a subjective measure) and undeniably it's the most familar to most of its customers and the cost of the work to leave might be higher than the reduction in cost). It doesn't take a large volume of staff to get those qualities and the stuff that might warrant a large set of technicians is the stuff that Amazon won't commit to.

AWS seems cheap to companies that are either so small that they can't get economies of scale going like Amazon, mismanage their own resources to incur higher cost, and/or can't bring themselves to make some of the operational/architectural/hardware choices that amazon makes in order to be in the right ballpark.

Fixed that for you... (This is a good thing, btw.) (5, Interesting)

Qbertino (265505) | about 10 months ago | (#45712913)

Amazon must realize it cannot export its anti-union labor model to European shores. ... ... powered by lobbying machine KPMG Consulting, their shill Gerhard 'Let's wrap him in barbed wire and shoot him into the sun' Schröder, Hartz 4 cheap-flexible-workforce-supply powered by German taxpayer and so forth. ... There, fixed that for you.

As much as I love shopping for stuff at amazon, I'm totally with these strikers. Kick them where it hurts is my vote on this! Go, workers rights, go! Voll in die Eier! ... I hope this spills over into the US, a notable signal no-holds barred neo-con corporate-socialism disguised as free market capitalism desperately needs. Here and across the pond.

My 2 cents.

Re:Fixed that for you... (This is a good thing, bt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713075)

Voll in die Eier

Full in the eggs?

Re: Fixed that for you... (This is a good thing, b (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713215)

Square in the nuts.

Re:Fixed that for you... (This is a good thing, bt (2)

dave420 (699308) | about 10 months ago | (#45713237)

~ "Right in the balls"

Re:Fixed that for you... (This is a good thing, bt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713099)

As much as I love shopping for stuff at amazon

Me too. I live in the UK. I browse for stuff on Amazon. Frequently, the cheapest option is a third-party vendor. So I go to the vendor's website where the product is frequently cheaper still. I order it. Amazon makes nothing. And my money stays in the UK.

I save money. I help the economy. I don't help Amazon. What's not to like?

Re:Fixed that for you... (This is a good thing, bt (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713103)

A friend of mine down on his luck and desperate for money worked last year for a few weeks at one of Amazon's fulfillment centers during their holiday hiring surge. Told me some stories that were Orwellian in the degree that people were "managed", with a ruthless efficiency that rivaled the mechanical processing of the products themselves. From the moment the trucks rolled in with the goods to the second they rolled out again, every moment of every item including the employees were tracked, itemized, stamped.... It was pretty unbelievable the conditions people were working in a Modern Times [youtube.com] -like cog-in-a-machine way.

The pay was shit, the turnover ridiculous, and my friend like most people there didn't last very long. David Sederis or someone would have a field day with this.

Re:Fixed that for you... (This is a good thing, bt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713149)

Well, I bet your 2 cents aren't worth as much as you paid Amazon, you stinking hypocrite.
 
Once again, a Slashtard talks up a good idealistic game but fails to deliver in action. Who woulda thunk it?

Tough negotiations, for sure (1, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#45712917)

In one corner you've got an organisational of thousands with huge financial resources and political clout using its sheer size to say how and when people should be employed, and in the other corner you've got a union.

Re:Tough negotiations, for sure (0)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 10 months ago | (#45713145)

Now, I'd have phrased it with the last word being "Amazon"... and that's my biggest problem with unions.

Unions are ridiculously powerful in the US, and even more so in Europe. Employers who deal with unions have to have union approval for practically anything they do, so every business decision turns into an adversarial conflict. Businesses often just avoid changes, just to avoid having the unions add more requirements.

Personally, I prefer smaller negotiating groups like worker councils and interest groups, and I think those should be strengthened in some ways similar to unions (regarding leaving an unacceptable job). That gives the individuals the freedom to make agreements suitable for their situation, and it's actually possible to get everybody in the group into one meeting to work out a decision quickly.

Re:Tough negotiations, for sure (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#45713157)

Now, I'd have phrased it with the last word being "Amazon"...

That's the joke I was trying to make, yes. Apparently I did not do a good job of it.

Re:Tough negotiations, for sure (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 10 months ago | (#45713239)

I chuckled, but when replying I wasn't sure whether you were actually intending it as humor or not. Given Slashdot's usual pro-union and anti-corporate stance, I figured you were making a statement about unions not being strong enough.

Re:Tough negotiations, for sure (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#45713255)

My point - if there is one - that unions exist as a natural mirror to a corporation's own collective bargaining power. I've actually seen people (including honest-to-God well-paid politicians) really upset at how "unfair" collective bargaining is, arguing that it should be outlawed.

Re:Tough negotiations, for sure (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 10 months ago | (#45713267)

Indeed. Remember the German economy is dominated by high paying factory jobs in the automotive sector that are rife with unionization. Much the same as federal government, unions want nothing as much as they want to be larger. Amazon will implement whatever workaround is necessary to remain the internet's Walmart, including repurposing jobs and 'logistic centers' to poorer EU nations. Sorry about the extra day of delivery Deutschlander, your order is being shipped from Greece.

Investigative Report? (1)

MLCT (1148749) | about 10 months ago | (#45712967)

What do we reckon is the probability of the Washington Post starting an investigative report on a story like this?

Amazon Women Strike Germany? (1)

ups (32461) | about 10 months ago | (#45712977)

Misread the title as "Amazon Women Strike Germany as Christmas Orders Peak" - for a short while the world was a much more interesting place to live...

Re:Amazon Women Strike Germany? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713025)

Sorry, no snu-snu for you.

Re:Amazon Women Strike Germany? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713127)

No one cares.

Re:Amazon Women Strike Germany? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713245)

Amazon Women Ordered to Make Germans Peak For Christmas

The problem is in the subtext (5, Informative)

The_DoubleU (603071) | about 10 months ago | (#45712985)

The union says Amazon workers receive lower wages than others in retail and mail-order jobs and that other retailers pay overtime, but Amazon does not. Amazon has defended its wage policies, saying that employees earn toward the upper end of the pay scale of logistics companies in Germany.

Please note that the union sees the work as a mail-order job, where wages are higher.
Amazon thinks of it as a logistics job.
The union demands that Amazon recognize that the workers are in the mail-order business and pay accordingly.

Re:The problem is in the subtext (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 10 months ago | (#45713161)

That makes sense. From the union's perspective, the workers are doing mail-order work, filling orders to be shipped. From the company's perspective, the workers are just one step in a global distribution network, which is clearly a logistics position.

Interesting (5, Informative)

Notabadguy (961343) | about 10 months ago | (#45713017)

FTA....

1. Amazon says that it's pay is already near the top of the scale for logistic centers.

2. German Union Organizers have a problem with Amazon defining their distribution warehouses as "logistic centers" because it allows them to pay less than they would otherwise be required to.

Germany's strike is really a strike against Amazon fulfillment centers being allowed to classify themselves as "Logistics" centers. I'm curious what a better definition would be.

Re:Interesting (3, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#45713063)

Mail order workers. Apparently if you're in a business that sells items by mail, you're on a different pay scale than one that simply shifts items for other people.

Re:Interesting (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 10 months ago | (#45713129)

Maybe Mail orders as the union states? I think that fits better than a "logistics" job.

Wait, what? "Worker councils"? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713021)

"Amazon also says it prefers to address employment issues with worker councils at individual sites rather than through negotiations with the union."

Yeah, I bet they do.

That's actually the reason we have unions in the first place, you know...

Unfortunate (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713041)

It's sad that Amazon and other organizations in the US have succeeded so much in suppressing Unions.

I guess I'll do a little whistleblowing on a job I had with Joann Fabrics here in the US in one of their warehouses. It was during the Christmas season and they hired many temp employees from temp agencies to fill out their staff to meet orders. I was one of many "pickers", someone who hauls heavy stuff all day (20+ pounds, all day for 8 hours) in a very dusty, dirty warehouse. The air was thick with the dust, so much so that if I didn't wear a mask, I'd be hacking up phlegm within an hour. Most people working there didn't wear masks. One guy said that, because many of the boxes come from overseas, he gets a rash every fall that "is red and itches like crazy". It happens around the same time shipments come in.

They treated us pretty badly, running us hard, as hard as the people who were there for 20 years, and expecting us to perform at their pace or get canned. You had your stats told to you every day. When I started at a whopping $8.00/hr, I was told I'd get a $.25 raise after working for 600 hours. I wanted to laugh in the supervisor's face.

This is the way these warehouses are, generally. As a worker you are paid crap, treated like crap, expected to work insanely hard, and if your health suffers, oh well.

Re:Unfortunate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713181)

Remember your 5th grade teacher telling you that if you didn't study you would not amount to anything? You should have listened. Moving boxes for a few months is a low paying job because anyone can do it and it requires ZERO special skills other than being able to lift. This is the same reason you can find anyone to cut your grass for $30 but if you need a professional landscaper to design something for you, you will easily pay 2-10x that amount. Even though the designer is not doing any physical work out in the hot sun, you are paying more because of their skill set. Should the person cutting your grass expect the same pay as the designer?

Not Amazon's Fault (3, Interesting)

Psychotria (953670) | about 10 months ago | (#45713051)

I'm not sure why Amazon is being singled out here, except perhaps that it's a great example. The root problem is the greed of American-based companies and their total disregard or apathy towards their employees. The only people working for these parasitic companies that make money are the directors and C*s; their inflated value of what the "top people" do and the remuneration they award these so-called "top people" is outrageous. There really does need to a proper evaluation of how wages within a US-based company are distributed amongst the employees. Is a CEO really worth the same as 10000 (or more) "workers"? No, of course not. For a start, without workers there is no company and there is no profit because without workers the damn company can't even make a cent. And don't get me started about boards having to look out for their shareholders; if that was truly the case then proper and fair distribution of remuneration throughout the workers would be exactly the same (it's just the the C*s wouldn't earn 10 (or more) figure salaries whilst the minions earn 5 figure salaries, or maybe 6 if they're lucky.) The greed is sickening. The US culture is sickening. More and more countries are realising this. I fully support the workers; if they don't stand up, who will? It does seem that US workers seem to just accept this shit, but fortunately the rest of the world does seem to have more of a clue.

Re:Not Amazon's Fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713105)

You said it well.

Eventually companies realize they will lose their consumers when they don't even give them enough money to buy the very things they produce.

Plus there is this huge Anti Union movement going on now a days. Not sure why exactly i guess most people like to be door mats or something.

Re:Not Amazon's Fault (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 10 months ago | (#45713213)

Plus there is this huge Anti Union movement going on now a days. Not sure why exactly i guess most people like to be door mats or something.

Yeah, it is much better to be a door mat for both the Union bosses AND the corporate bosses than to just be a door mat for corporate bosses (assuming that one does not have the skills and wherewithal to get out from under the bosses, which, of course the politicians are working tirelessly to make ever harder).

Just to make it clear (0, Troll)

Psychotria (953670) | about 10 months ago | (#45713147)

I am not labelling the majority of individual US citizens as sadistic, egotistical, greedy, sociopathic, controlling, corrupt, stupid and dishonest. Just the US nation as a whole (i.e. your government, your spies and the business and banking leaders and their "top people".) The rest of the world is waking up to the disease that's called the US, the internal stability of the US is eroding rapidly, and we're quite possibly witnessing the spiralling downfall of a once great nation. I empathise with those in the US who have or will be caught up in this downfall, but your own government will probably just call it collateral damage.

Re:Not Amazon's Fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713179)

it's just the the C*s wouldn't earn 10 (or more) figure salaries

If I could be have a salary in the billions (or tens of billions!) then I'd be fucking the workers too! Personally and literally if necessary. Maybe not for a mere hundred million, but definitely for a billion a year. I can only imagine what the bonuses are there. Where can I get a job like this? I'm assuming that it's a company valued in the trillions....

FTA: 14K of 23K Jobs are Temps (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 10 months ago | (#45713153)

Housewives making extra money for the Holiday, poor folks using Christmas' commercialization as an opportunity to get hired on full time, and possibly even some Department Store Santas who cannot hold a regular job year round.... I don't think we're talking historical on the order of Lech Walesa here.

Waste of Time (1)

N3tRunner (164483) | about 10 months ago | (#45713167)

No delays to deliveries? Less than 5% of the current workforce participating in the strike? What a waste of time.

Less pay or no job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45713229)

What's it going to be? It's a global economy, there are people in other countries willing to do the job you won't. Sad to say but unions are effectively dead until third world countries stop working for pennies on the dollar.

this would never catch on in america. (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 10 months ago | (#45713241)

Amazon fulfillment centers in america routinely make workers stand in unpaid lines for security checks as they exit. Wages in the states would never appropach our own livable $15 thanks to a patchwork system of labor laws and tax incentives pushed through by gerrymandered republican political districts under the guise of job creation.

if you mandate health insurance for full time employees, all the employees will be made part time.

if you mandate OSHA regulations and safe work environments, employers will just pay their political lackey to chisel the agency down to nothing at the state level.

if you complain about the workplace, the squeekiest wheel will be terminated without cause.

if you finally get tired of your employers jackboot, they'll complain about how rudely you brought their insolence to the public limelight, instead of burying your remorse and misery in their complaint department rubbish bin.

state-by-state corporate legislation works about as well as state-by-state marriage legislation.

Who is right? (1)

pradeepsekar (793666) | about 10 months ago | (#45713315)

"The union says Amazon workers receive lower wages than others in retail and mail-order jobs"

"Amazon has defended its wage policies, saying that employees earn toward the upper end of the pay scale of logistics companies in Germany."

So who is right? Is Amazon avoiding paying overtime because they schedule worker shifts in an intelligent manner that does not require overtime (resulting in lower earnings per employee), or because they dont pay overtime even if people work overtime?

"The union says that by classifying its centers as "logistics" centers, Amazon can pay lower wages" - so what is the right definition - Can they be called "retail", or as "mail-order" jobs... can someone enlighten... based on facts...

There are so many nuances that just cannot be understood from a simple media article... Oh well... this is slashdot....

But what I'd rather have is that Amazon, and its workers and its worker councils and its unions sort the matter out in an amicable manner, than to inconvenience their paying customers, which can only result in something negative for all the parties involved.

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