Unions call strike at Amazon's logistic operations in Italy on March 22

ROME (Reuters) - Unions in Italy said on Thursday they had called on workers at Amazon’s logistics operations in the country to go on a 24-hour strike on March 22 after talks with a business lobby group over working conditions of delivery service suppliers broke down.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo/File Photo/File Photo

It will be the first strike affecting Amazon’s entire logistics operations in Italy and will involve workers at Amazon’s warehouses and logistics hubs as well as external providers of delivery services. The latter are represented by employer association Assoespressi.

National unions FILT-CGIL, FIT-CISL and Uiltrasporti said negotiations with Assoespressi over contracts for workers at Amazon’s delivery service suppliers had come “to an abrupt halt because of the lobby’s unwillingness to positively address the issues raised”.

The unions had asked Assoespressi to revise several aspects of staff’s contracts, including workloads, shifts, lunch vouchers, results-linked bonuses and payments for travel. It also asked for drivers’ working hours to be cut.

In their statement, unions also blamed Amazon for being unwilling to hold discussions with workers’ representatives.

Amazon said that the unions’ claims were “false” because the U.S. group had met the unions twice in January, a company spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

It added that given its logistics operations included delivery service providers, it believed unions should talk directly with them as well as with the business lobby representing them.

The world’s largest online retailer direct employs 9,500 people full-time in Italy, of which two thirds are in logistics.

The U.S. company has invested 5.8 billion euros ($6.9 billion) in Italy since starting operations there 10 years ago. In January it announced it would open two logistics centres investing a further 230 million euros.

Last year around one-third of staff working at an Amazon delivery station in central Italy went on strike over requests for enhanced safety measures for workers amid the coronavirus health emergency. ($1 = 0.8361 euros)

(The story corrects throughout to show strike affects logistics operations, including third-party workers, not entire company)

Reporting by Francesca Piscioneri, editing by Giulia Segreti and Susan Fenton