geert lovink on 27 Nov 2000 19:26:43 -0000


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<nettime> interesting "net" strike at amazon


[taken from this new service, co-written by an early nettime subscriber,
now standard europe editor, boris groendahl]

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                    THE INDUSTRY STANDARD EUROPE'S
                I N T E L L I G E N C E R  E U R O P E
              This week in the European Internet economy
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                                           translations by eTranslate

Amazons workers of the world unite

Trade unions' fight for representation has been taken up at French and
German branches of the online megalith.

By Bernhard Warner, Kristi Essick and Boris Groendahl

The pre-Christmas push to organise unions at Amazon.com has crossed the
Atlantic. Trade unions in Germany and France have taken up the cause,
trying to recruit warehouse workers to join in a global effort to fight
for better working conditions.

Details of a possible Amazon union emerged last week from the US. Prewitt
Organizing Fund, an independent union-recruiting group based in
Washington, DC, began seeking union representation for some 5,000 workers
in Amazon's distribution centres throughout the US, as well as in France
and Germany. There is no evidence of a similar movement in the UK, but
there is talk of organising activities in Holland.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos maintains that unions are unnecessary at Amazon,
where employees have stock options.

Luc Lecornu, a spokesman for SUD, a French trades union group, said his
organisation was contacted by Prewitt Organizing Fund to lead the fight on
French soil. "We decided to give them a hand," he said.

On Tuesday, the SUD held a small press conference in front of Amazon.fr's
Boigny-sur-Bionne distribution centre near Orleans, which currently
employs around 50 people. The organisation handed out pamphlets and
engaged in discussion with employees leaving the compound, Lecornu said.

But, for the moment, interest in union action in France is still minimal.

A similar rally was planned today at Amazon's distribution centre at Bar
Hersfeld in Germany, where 500 full and part-time staffers work. Hans
Ries, a union representative at the Projekt Logistik, a joint initiative
by the four German unions HBV, DPG, DAG and ÍTV, gave few details about
today's scheduled event. It is expected that workers there will be
informed of the complaints held by Amazon's US workers.

Ries said workers in Germany were the first Amazon employees to join a
union, back in April. A primary complaint of theirs is wages. Amazon
factory workers in Germany are paid DM16.80 (8.60 euros) per hour - below
the average of DM18.20 (9.30 euros).





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