Unions from five countries meet over Amazon working conditions

Thu Jul 3, 2014 11:23am EDT

* Unions want better working conditions at Amazon

* Strikes have been held in France and Germany

* Amazon building more logistics centres in eastern Europe

BERLIN, July 3 (Reuters) - Trade unions from five countries met in Germany on Wednesday and Thursday to coordinate a campaign to push for better working conditions at online retailer Amazon.com Inc.

German union Verdi, which has organised a series of strikes at Amazon distribution centres over the last year, hosted the meeting in Berlin with unions from Poland, the Czech Republic, Britain and the United States.

"International solidarity and cross-border networking of trade unions sends an important signal to Amazon and is essential to push through better working conditions for Amazon employees in Germany and other locations," Verdi board member Stefanie Nutzenberger said in a statement.

A Verdi spokeswoman said the participants had expressed similar complaints about Amazon, including over pay, the role of trade unions in the workplace and stress suffered by workers due to long shifts collecting goods in large warehouses.

Amazon was not immediately available to comment.

Verdi has organised several stoppages over the past year to push Amazon to raise pay for logistics workers, demands Amazon has repeatedly rejected. Verdi has also supported workers striking at a French distribution centre near Lyon.

Amazon is planning to build three new logistics centres in Poland and two in the Czech Republic, prompting speculation that it could seek to shift work across the border from strike-hit centres in Germany.

Verdi is not immediately concerned about that threat, as delivering from outside Germany would be slower for Amazon, but could coordinate action with union colleagues in Poland and Czech Republic if it comes to that, the spokeswoman said. (Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Mark Potter)