Amazon Germany says more worried about snow than strikes

Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:09pm EST
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By Emma Thomasson and Nadine Schimroszik

HAMBURG (Reuters) - Inc has no intention of bowing to pressure from striking workers in Germany, its second biggest market behind the United States, and is more worried about bad weather hurting Christmas deliveries, its country head said.

"We are talking about a minority who take part in actions brought on by the union," Ralf Kleber told Reuters in an interview.

"Amazon is a fair employer. Many of our workers have been with us for more than 14 years. The majority of workers would say it is a good, well-paid job."

Trade union Verdi has staged a series of strikes this year in a dispute over pay and conditions at distribution centers in Leipzig and Bad Hersfeld. On Monday, the union said about 1,000 employees walked out, almost a fifth of the regular workforce there. Amazon said less than 800 staff had joined the strike.

"Snowfall in Germany is the bigger problem in the Christmas business ... that is what gives me worry lines," Kleber said, adding that the strikes had not affected deliveries so far.

E-commerce sales in Germany are seen growing 12 percent for the full year to 33.1 billion euros ($45 billion), expanding an even faster 15 percent in the Christmas period, when the sector should make 8.5 billion euros in sales.

Amazon employs 9,000 warehouse staff in Germany plus 14,000 seasonal workers and sales there grew almost 21 percent in 2012 to $8.7 billion, representing a third of its overseas total.

BLACK SHEEP?   Continued...

A general view of the storage hall at the 70,000 square metre warehouse floor in Amazon's new distribution center in Brieselang, near Berlin November 28, 2013. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz