Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Thousands of Amazon Workers in Germany Strike on Black Friday

Jeff Bezos has made $90 billion in the pandemic. His workers are demanding higher wages and union recognition, but Amazon is employing Pinkerton detectives to spy on those workers.

Nathaniel Flakin

November 27, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
Photo: EP

Since the beginning of the pandemic, millions of people have lost their jobs. Jeff Bezos, on the other hand, has increased his wealth by $90 billion over the course of the year. The owner of Amazon, who is also the richest man in the world, now controls $189 billion.

Who generates these unimaginable profits? The over one million people who work for Amazon around the globe. They have to put up with long shifts, backbreaking work, and low wages. Many of them try to improve their conditions by forming unions. But Amazon goes to incredible lengths to prevent this unionization.

Like Left Voice? Donate to Left Voice

Amazon workers in Germany have had enough. On Black Friday, which is the busiest day of the year, thousands of them have gone on strike. The action, which started on Wednesday night and will continue for three days, is taking place at eight different Fulfillment Centers across Germany.

To break the strike, Amazon will use warehouses in other European countries to fulfill orders from Germany. So workers are forming links with colleagues in Poland, Spain, Italy, and other European countries to build solidarity for their struggle.

In Germany, the service sector union ver.di has been organizing strikes since 2013. They are demanding wages in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement for the retail sector. But Amazon categorically refuses to negotiate with the union.

As ver.di reports, hundreds of Amazon workers have been infected with Covid, as minimum distances cannot be maintained during peak work hours. Amazon has largely been able to ignore the strikes by hiring thousands of additional workers around the holidays. It appears that Amazon is willing to spend far more money to break the strike than it would cost to meet workers’ demands. 

As Motherboard reports, based on secret internal documents, Amazon’s ominously named Global Security Operations Center employs spies at its European warehouses to monitor employees’ efforts to form unions. For this purpose, Amazon contracts the Pinkerton Detective Agency — a name synonymous with strikebreaking and terror against the labor movement. Amazon has also been spying on diverse social movements, from the climate strikes led by Greta Thunberg to the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests).

Unfortunately, the bureaucratic leadership of ver.di has not been willing to escalate the strike actions over the years. Beating a global corporation owned by the richest man in the world will require more than just individual strikes. The Amazon workers in Germany need solidarity from other workers and from social movements. Only militant, mass actions will be capable of forcing Bezos to give some of those billions back to the workers that created them.

Facebook Twitter Share

Nathaniel Flakin

Nathaniel is a freelance journalist and historian from Berlin. He is on the editorial board of Left Voice and our German sister site Klasse Gegen Klasse. Nathaniel, also known by the nickname Wladek, has written a biography of Martin Monath, a Trotskyist resistance fighter in France during World War II, which has appeared in German, in English, and in French. He is on the autism spectrum.

Instagram

Europe

Matteo Salvini, Silvio Berlusconi and Giorgia Meloni at the centre-right coalition's closing rally in Italy.

Right-Wing Coalition Wins Italian Elections amid Record-Low Turnout

Amid record-low turnout, Italy’s right-wing coalition won in the country’s snap election this weekend. Ultra-right-wing politician Giorgia Meloni is now set to be the new prime minister. But forming a stable government that lasts five years will be difficult.

Giacomo Turci

September 27, 2022
A postal workers' strike outside Mount Pleasant Royal Mail sorting office in London on August 26, 2022

Britain in Strike Fever after Queen’s State Funeral

After the state funeral of Elizabeth II in the United Kingdom, several sectors are preparing to strike on October 1. The coming workers’ struggles and the fight against the anti-union laws will be a key moment of class struggle in Britain.

Dan Kedem

September 27, 2022
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via video link at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia September 23, 2022.

With Mobilization of Reservists and Nuclear Threats, Putin Prepares for Prolonged War

Russian President Putin announced the mobilization of 300,000 reservists and raised the threat of nuclear war. The move exposes the political interests behind the war in Ukraine and their geopolitical prospects.

Claudia Cinatti

September 26, 2022
Russian protester being arrested by Russian police.

Mass Arrests in Russia during Nationwide Anti-War Mobilizations

Nationwide protests were called in Russia on Saturday against the war and against Putin’s recent announcement to mobilize reservists. Demonstrators were met with mass arrests.

MOST RECENT

Vigil in South Korea against femicide (post-it notes on a wall)

Femicide in South Korea: The State and Bosses Are Responsible

The recent murder of a woman who worked for Seoul Metro shows the dangers faced by women workers in Korea. The working class must organize against femicide and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Youngmi Lee

October 5, 2022
Union leaders are joined by community group representatives, elected officials and social activists for a rally in support of unionization efforts by Amazon workers in the state of Alabama on March 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. - Workers and organizers are pushing for what would be one of the biggest victories for labor in the United States over the past few decades if successful in the first Amazon warehouse union election in Bessemer, Alabama, where worker's ballots must reach the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board by March 29 to be counted.

‘We Need a Labor Movement That’s a Lot More Militant and Willing to Challenge the Status Quo’: An Interview with Joe Burns

Joe Burns, director of collective bargaining with the CWA-AFA union, discusses his new book, Class Struggle Unionism, and the importance of a militant labor movement.

Left Voice

October 4, 2022
A Pakistani man wades through flood waters carrying a bit bag of produce.

‘It’s Time to Declare War on This Climate-Destroying System!’: Interview with a Pakistani Socialist about the Flood

The flood in Pakistan is one of the most horrific climate events in recent history. A Pakistani socialist describes the consequences of the disaster, as well as the economic crises facing the country.

Maxi Schulz

October 3, 2022

Lula Finishes Ahead of Bolsonaro, but the Elections Will Be Decided in the Second Round

Lula and the PT came out on top in the first round of Brazil’s elections, but it’s far from clear that their conciliatory program can stop the Right.

André Barbieri

October 2, 2022