Amazon chief Jeff Bezos didn’t receive a warm welcome in Berlin last night. Trade unionists booed him as he arrived for a gala dinner and prize giving in the German capital. It isn’t always easy being the world’s richest man.
German trade union Verdi doesn’t much like him (that’s well known), Amazon or employment terms within Amazon. As the Verdi boss says:
We have an Amazon boss who wants to Americanise work relationships and take us back to the 19th century.
– Frank Bsirske, Verdi
Bsirske made a fiery speech to the Berlin protest crowd that included Amazon workers. It is reported that some were carrying placards reading “Make Amazon pay”. Otherwise the incident passed without incident.
According to reports from the likes of Reuters, police estimated that around about 450 members of trade union Verdi gathered outside the headquarters of the media company Axel Springer. Amazon chief Jeff Bezos was in the German capital to receive an award at a ceremony attended by German politicians and also celebrities.
It doesn’t seem like a German backlash against Amazon is imminent. Don’t forget that Germany is second only to the US when it comes to national market share for the Seattle based giant. The UK comes in at number three. And that’s hardly so surprising because Germany is rather more populous than the UK.
Amazon and trade union Verdi, which is big in Germany, don’t have a particularly warm relationship and this is just the most recent example of a stand-off. Amazon is unrepentent about its offering on work and conditions:
Amazon provides a safe and positive workplace for thousands of people across Germany with competitive pay and benefits from day one.
As the dominance of Amazon increases, there is going to be more industrial friction. In the UK the criticism has predominantly come from the media. Would you work in an Amazon FC?