After months of struggle to successfully establish the first works council in an Amazon delivery center, UNI affiliate ver.di won a majority of delegates in Wunstorf, located in the Hanover region, ensuring workers’ voice will be heard there.
After around 200 employees elected the works council representatives, the responsible ver.di secretary Dietmar Görsdorf said: “I am pleased that legal co-determination is now also finding its way into the sorting and distribution centers of Amazon!”
In recent months there have been successful works council elections in the Amazon logistics centers, the so-called fulfillment centers, in Achim and Winsen in Lower Saxony. There, too, the unionized lists had achieved good results.
For Serdal Sardas, the newly elected ver.di works council in Wunstorf, contact with other Amazon locations is particularly important: “It was a hard, rocky road, but we won. I would now like to encourage my colleagues at other Amazon locations: set up works councils, stand up for your colleagues. What we have done, you have been able to do for a long time!”
ver.di has long criticized working conditions at Amazon warehouses and delivery centers in Germany. While thousands of Amazon workers have joined ver.di, the company has rejected bargainging a collective agreements with its employees there. The company’s hostility to unions has provoked dozens of strikes and other workplace actions in Germany and across Europe over the past years.
Amazon has a history of neglecting workers’ rights. According to The Amazon Panopticon — UNI Global Union’s report on the intrusive and all-encompassing Amazon worker surveillance systems—Amazon’s highly invasive, and ultrafast delivery process is hiding harmful effects on its 1.3 million workers. Employees are relentlessly monitored, evaluated, and subjected to high-pressure and gruelling conditions.
This model is so inhumane that in a ground-breaking investigation, the New York Times reported, “Amazon burns through workers so quickly that executives are worried they’ll run out of people to employ.” Bloomberg News also reported that Amazon drivers have been “fired by the app” for minor mishaps that a human manager would have ignored.