Over 500 workers at the e-commerce giant's main distribution hub in Italy have agreed to strike for the first time this Black Friday after disappointing talks with Amazon for bonuses and better pay, Reuters reported Wednesday. The plan follows strikes scheduled for the same day at six Amazon warehouses in Germany.
The strike is set to last the entire holiday season until Dec. 31 and expected to disrupt Amazon's busiest shopping season -- the company told the Financial Times it received more than a million orders last Black Friday. But it added that it remained committed to ensuring its customers receive their orders punctually during this period.
The number of orders Amazon receives on Black Friday may seem little compared to Alibaba's Singles' Day, but the online retailer still has to more than double its staff strength to cope with higher demand. Amazon employs 1,600 permanent staff at its Piacenza site in Northern Italy, but brings up its staff strength to 4,000 every year during the shopping season. The hub opened when Amazon launched its platform in Italy in 2010. Workers are paid a monthly average of 1,300 euros (about $1,541), according to FT.this
In a statement, Amazon said its workers are among the highest paid in the logistics sector and enjoy benefits such as private medical insurance and training subsidies. But trade unions disagree.
"The world's biggest online retailer wants to achieve record sales on [Black Friday], but employees have to produce record performance not only on this day so that everything runs how Amazon wants it," Stefanie Nutzenberger, board member of a German trade union, told Reuters.
"We want a bonus because the company is having great results, and the profits need to be distributed," Gianluca Zilocchi, secretary of an Italian trade union told FT. "There's also a question of rights and a suffocating climate for workers."
CNET has reached out to Amazon for a comment.
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