Some days poetic justice is just too delicious.
The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos who owns Amazon and The Washington Post, travelled to Berlin in Germany this week to receive an innovation award, and was greeted with boos rather than open arms from his employees.
According to Bloomberg, around 350 Amazon workers, members of Germany’s powerful Ver.di trade union, gathered outside the office of tabloid publisher Axel Springer where the awards ceremony was taking place, carrying posters demanding to “Make Amazon Pay.” The union has been pushing for higher pay for Amazon’s thousands of workers in the country for several years, claiming they receive lower wages than workers in other retail jobs. Amazon workers from other countries, including Poland and Italy, also traveled to Berlin to join the protest.
Well, alrighty then. It looks like the Europeans aren’t all that timid when their pocketbooks are on the line.
This incident comes on the heels of Amazon revealing the median income of their employees: $28,446. This is for the people who are on their feet all day long, being sidelined by repetitive stress injuries, and who are being replaced by robots.
The Europeans are not amused, and on the other side of the pond Bezos is giving American work a bad name.
In a dramatic description of Amazon working conditions, Verdi boss Frank Bsirske said that “we have a boss who wants to impose American working conditions on the world and take us back to the 19th century.” Ver.di has for years been a constant thorn in Amazon’s side in Germany, organizing workers strikes to demand improved pay and working conditions according to Bloomberg.
Americans, actually, do not want a return to that, either. It’s the people like Bezos who are hoarding money that are interested in spending as little on employees as possible. It’s as if they never heard of keeping their employees happy and the people will be loyal.
One of the protesters at the event was Thomas Rigol, 37, who joined Amazon as a logistics worker in Leipzig in 2008. Rigol says he would like Bezos to give unions a say in the company, and increase profit sharing opportunities for workers.
“But mostly it’s about respect, which the simple workers aren’t getting from the upper management,” Rigol said. “Mr. Bezos is the richest man in the world and we are being patronized.”
So are the Amazon employees everywhere else.