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Amazon's German staff in further strikes

Amazon workers in Germany are preparing for a round of strikes this week aimed at higher pay and better working conditions. The strikes could continue throughout the Christmas season, endangering the company in one of its largest markets during its busiest time of the year.

Workers at Amazon's logistics centres in Bad Hersfeld and Leipzig will go on strike again today, and will be joined for the first time by workers in Graben.

This follows industrial action that took place towards the end of November, which saw over 500 staff walking out of the Bad Hersfeld and Leipzig facilities.

Workers in Amazon's centre in the town of Werne will join the protest on Tuesday, according to workers' union Verdi. A delegation of German workers will also protest at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle, with the support of US labour unions.

Verdi has organised a number of brief strikes this year to try to force Amazon to accept collective bargaining agreements for workers in the mail order and retail industry as benchmarks for workers' pay at German distribution centres.

However, Amazon insists that the workers in Bad Hersfeld and Leipzig are logistics workers, and are therefore receiving a higher wage than most workers in the same industry.

Working conditions in Amazon's warehouses were recently found to be conducive to "mental and physical illness" by a BBC-led Panorama investigation.

As part of the programme, Professor Michael Marmot of UCL's Institute of Health Equity, one of Britain's leading experts on stress in the workplace, said the working conditions at the warehouses constituted "all the bad stuff at once".

However, Amazon has taken a hard line against its striking employees.

Amazon's German logistics chief Dave Clark told Die Welt that "We will not be blackmailed into cooperating with an organisation that threatens to ruin Christmas for German children."

Amazon employs over 9,000 people in Germany. The country has grown into the web giant's biggest market outside the United States over the last few years, with sales in Germany growing almost 21 per cent in 2012, to reach $8.7 billion (£5.38 billion).

Image: Euronews