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Amazon workers in Europe go on strike during Prime Day

Warehouse crews in Spain, Germany and Poland are protesting over working conditions, pay and health benefits.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Amazon workers in Europe walked off their jobs Monday, even as orders flooded in for the e-tailer's annual Prime Day sale.

Almost 1,800 workers in Spain went on strike Monday, according to The Washington Post, and more are expected to join the protest on Tuesday in Germany and Poland. The warehouse crews are reportedly protesting working conditions, pay and health benefits.

Verdi, a service sector union, said workers in Amazon's warehouses have suffered from physical and mental stress, as well as other health problems. The union blamed monotonous tasks and the demands of covering miles of warehouse rows for the problems. It also said Amazon had refused to enter negotiations over the issues.

"The message is clear: While the online giant gets rich, it's saving money on the health of its workers," Stefanie Nutzenberger, union representative, said in a news release.

Verdi spokeswoman Lena Widmann explained in an email statement that Amazon "refuses to pay the usual commerce wages for Germany, [which also includes] holiday and extra bonuses as well as more days off." Widmann also said workers wish for a better work environment that allows them to stay healthy until retirement. But Amazon refused any negotiations with Verdi.

"We are committed to ensuring a fair cooperation with all our employees, including positive working conditions and a caring and inclusive environment," said an Amazon spokesperson in an email statement. "We encourage anyone to come see for themselves by taking a tour at one of our fulfillment centers."

Spanish workers are on a three-day strike, while Polish workers will stage a work slowdown, known as work-to-rule, according to Reuters. The German strike will take place at six facilities, the news service reported.

Prime Day, an annual event to encourage people to join Amazon's Prime shipping service, started at 12 p.m. PT on Monday and runs for 36 hours. 

First published July 16, 1:13 p.m. PT.
Update, 1:35 p.m. PT: Adds Amazon spokesperson statement. Update, July 17, 7:03 a.m. PT: Adds Verdi spokeswoman Lena Widmann's statement.

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