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Amazon faces union strike threat in Germany

Warwick Ashford

A German services union is threatening online retailer Amazon with another strike over wages in the run-up to Christmas.

The Verdi union told Der Spiegel magazine it will call strikes when it will hurt the company most after strikes in June and September 2013 failed to yield the desired result, according to the Guardian.

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Several hundred workers walked out at Amazon’s distribution centres in Leipzig and Bad Hersfeld, but the company said no customers were affected by the strike action.

Verdi wants Amazon to negotiate a collective wage agreement that complies with standards in the German retail sector. But Amazon claims the wages it pays are above average in the logistics industry.

Amazon employs more than 9,000 people in eight distribution centres in Germany.

In France, Amazon is facing opposition from MPs who have backed legislation aimed at curbing the discounting power of the online retailer.

MPs voted in support of a bill that will prevent Amazon combining free delivery with 5% discounts on books in an attempt to protect independent booksellers from unfair competition.

The bill, which must now be approved by the senate, is the latest round of French politicians taking on the might of the major US internet firms.

Since 1981 French law has fixed book prices so that readers pay the same whether they buy online, from a big high street chain or from a small bookseller. Extensive discounting is banned.

But Romain Voog, head of Amazon France, told Le Figaro the bill went against the interests of consumers and would push up the online price of books.

Voog said the bill would penalise Amazon customers who live far from any bookshop and appreciate being able to buy their books online.


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