Amazon: $ 500 million bonus payment globally while German workers strike

The company announced the bonuses on Black Friday night as protests against Amazon take place in Germany and elsewhere before a busy shopping weekend.

Amazon’s vice president of global operations, Dave Clark, said U.S. front-line employees will receive a $ 300 bonus, while part-timers will receive a $ 150 bonus. UK employees receive a bonus of £ 300 ($ 400) and £ 150 ($ 200).

Clark said in a statement that the company will spend $ 2.5 billion this year on global “special bonuses and incentives” for teams, including the “thank you” bonus he paid to employees in June.

Amazon is one of the few retailers to thrive in the midst of a pandemic. The company expects revenues to exceed $ 100 billion for the first time in the fourth quarter, bringing total sales to more than $ 370 billion in 2020 – a third higher than last year.

Its performance has encouraged trade unions and civil society groups to go much further in their commitment to workers and the environment. Dozens of organizations, including Greenpeace, Oxfam, Progressive International and the Tax Justice Network, are using Black Friday to raise awareness of workers ’compensation and safety concerns, as well as Amazon’s carbon emissions and tax practices.

“It’s great that workers get more this holiday season, [but] that’s not enough, ”said Christy Hoffman, secretary general of UNI Global Union, a union umbrella organization and one of the groups that signed the“ Make Amazon Pay ”petition.

“To demonstrate that it values ​​its workforce, Amazon needs to bargain collectively on wages and conditions in its work, rather than making one-time unilateral acknowledgment gestures,” he added.

In Germany, one of Amazon’s largest markets in Europe, the Verdi union announced a three-day strike at the company’s seven performance centers. The union wants Amazon to recognize a collective bargaining agreement that covers wages, bonuses and paid leisure.

Verdi has comparable contracts with other German retailers and has been organizing strikes since 2013 to get Amazon to agree to something similar. Andre Scheer, a union spokesman, confirmed that the strike was under way and that roughly 2,500 workers were expected by the end of Saturday night.

Amazon says the promotion will not affect customer shipments because it has 26,000 employees, including 10,000 seasonal workers who handle orders in 16 fulfillment centers in Germany. “The vast majority of employees do their day-to-day work,” said Stephan Eichenseher, a spokesman for the company.

“In fact, we already offer excellent pay, excellent benefits and excellent opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern work environment,” he added.

The EU is reaching the Amazon on antitrust charges.  There could be a huge fine

According to Eichenseher, employees at Amazon’s warehouse in Germany start with a salary of between € 11.30 ($ 13.49) and € 12.70 ($ 15.16) per hour, depending on the location. The country’s minimum wage is € 9.35 per hour ($ 11.16).

According to the UNI Global Union, there will be withdrawals and protests on Black Friday in 15 countries around the world, including Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Mexico, Spain and India. In Bangladesh, clothing workers are protesting outside an Amazon supplier and demanding higher wages, UNI said.

The British GMB Union on Friday called for a parliamentary inquiry into what it said were “dehumanizing” working conditions. An Amazon UK spokesman said there would be no strike at any of the performance centers in the UK.

“This is a series of misleading claims made by misinformed or self-interested groups who use Amazon’s profile to promote their individual goals,” Amazon said in response to claims by unions and civil society groups that it treats workers and the environment badly.

“Amazon has extensive experience in supporting our employees, customers and communities, including providing safe working conditions, competitive wages and great benefits, a path to climate change with Climate Pledge’s commitment to net zero carbon by 2040 and pay billion dollars in taxes worldwide. “