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Amazon workers in Germany stage strike on ‘Black Friday’

More than 2,000 Amazon workers in Germany walked off the job as the US online retailer kicked off its "Black Friday" sales bonanza, escalating a long-simmering battle for better pay and working conditions.

Amazon workers in Germany stage strike on 'Black Friday'
File photo shows an Amazon centre in Dortmund. Photo: DPA

The strike called by the powerful Verdi union is set to last until Tuesday morning and will also cover “Cyber Monday”, another extravaganza of online discounts in what is a crucial sales period for Amazon.

Some 2,200 employees took part in Friday's walkouts at Amazon distribution centres in Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld, Koblenz, Rheinberg, Werne and Graben, a Verdi spokesman said.

“Their work cannot be had at rock-bottom prices,” Verdi said in a statement, demanding a collective labour agreement to ensure “a living wage and good, healthy jobs”.

READ ALSO: Amazon workers strike throughout Germany on 'Prime Days'

The union accused Amazon of “withholding basic rights” from staff and of making them work “under extreme pressure”.

“As a result, many employees become ill,” Verdi said.

Amazon played down the strike's impact, saying “packages will arrive on time”.

The company has long resisted the union's call for labour negotiations, defending its work environment and insisting that is “one of the best employers in the logistics industry”.

“We pay at the upper end of what is usual for comparable work, we offer additional benefits and review wages annually,” the company said.

The majority of its 13,000 employees in 13 logistics centres across Germany will be working “as normal”, it added.

Amazon has been hit by repeated strikes in Germany and other countries in recent years.

Last year's “Black Friday” event saw stoppages by workers in Spain, Germany and Britain.

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STRIKES

French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.

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