Employees at Amazon distribution centers in Germany staged a strike on Black Friday, walking out during one of the busiest shopping days of the year in an attempt to push for higher wages and better working conditions.
As The Associated Press reported, the walkouts took place at six distribution centers across the country, and some are scheduled to last until Tuesday. Union representatives said that the staff was unhappy with Amazon offering discounts to employees in lieu of higher pay. The company has come under fire in the past for its low wages, especially as founder Jeff Bezos’ personal net worth has surged to more than $113 billion.
Amazon is not the only major chain to come under pressure for low wages and a lack of traditional holiday benefits. In the United States, Walmart is coming under fire after reports that it is not offering holiday pay to employees who work on Thanksgiving and the holiday weekend this year.
A report from The Guardian claimed that the company eliminated extra holiday pay, breaking from the other retailers that traditionally offer time-and-a-half for working on holidays. Walmart is among the busiest retail stores on Black Friday, with sales starting at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving day.
Walmart had been unfavorable compared to Amazon as well. After Walmart raised its base wage to $11 per hour following massive corporate tax cuts from President Donald Trump, some criticized the company for not going as far as many of its competitors. As the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal noted, Amazon had already raised its base wage to $15 for all employees.
In Germany, union representative Orhan Akman said that Amazon employees are facing more than just low wages. The employees are also under “extreme pressure” due to the high volume of orders, causing many of them to fall ill, Akman said.
Amazon has pushed back against the claims of German union leaders, noting that the company offers pay “at the upper end of comparable jobs.” The company also said that the walkouts have not impacted the distribution of packages and that the bulk of employees are dealing with customer orders.
This is not the first time that Amazon has faced worker protests timed for one of the busiest annual shopping days. Back on July 15, as Amazon was offering 36 hours of sales for what it dubbed “Prime Day,” employees at a fulfillment center outside Minneapolis went on strike to demand better wages and benefits.