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Achtung! German Amazon workers out on strike

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Hundreds of workers at web bazaar Amazon’s central depot in Germany have walked out on strike in protest over working conditions and pay.

Around 500 people protested on Tuesday at the box-crammers' Bad Hersfeld site, which is one of seven distribution points in the country.

It is the first time Amazon workers have launched industrial action in Germany. Bad Hersfeld employs between 3,200 and 3,600 workers, according to estimates in the German press.

Heiner Reimann, spokesman for Germany's Verdi services sector union, told AFP he was pleased with the results of the strike.

He wants a change in the way workers’ contracts are handled and pay increases, but talks with management have so far failed to bring about the changes the union demands.

Workers at an Amazon depot near Leipzig have also voted to strike, although the time and date of the action have not yet been confirmed.

Amazon insisted that "staff at logistics centers in Germany were paid in the upper range of the usual rates in the industry” and received regular bonuses as well as shares after two years of employment.

The German tentacle of the giant parcel-pusher recently fired a security firm called Hensel European Security Services (HESS) after claims it was linked with Neo-Nazi groups.

The company was supposedly named after Hitler's second-in-command Rudolf Hess, and reportedly employed shaven-headed security guards who wore black outfits and Thor Steinar jackets - a clothing brand favoured by the Teutonic far-right.

Seasonal staff claimed the security guards intimidated and bullied employees, particularly non-Germans.

At the time, Amazon insisted it operated a "zero-tolerance" approach to "discrimination and intimidation and expects the same of other companies it works with".

The GMB trade union in the UK launched protests across Britain outside Amazon depots in January. Union activists claimed that Amazon was “dodging fair taxes” and attacked the supposedly “Victorian” methods it used to employ casual workers.

A GMB spokeswoman told the Reg today that Amazon were “the pits” and predicted more protests.

Paul Clarke, GMB National Organiser, has organised protests against Amazon's "fulfilment centres".

He commented:

"This isn't going to go away. Amazon employees need to be treated better."

In 2011 fifteen Amazon workers in the US were hospitalised after being made to stack shelves in temperatures of 38°C.

Are you a worker who wants to blow the whistle on working conditions? Contact The Reg - journalists can be reached by clicking on the bylines at the top of stories. Be aware that not all comments or forum posts are read by staff. ®

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