Staff at Amazon’s Italian distribution centre have called a strike over pay to coincide with the online shopping giant’s Black Friday sale.
Some 2,000 workers at the centre in Castel San Giovanni in Piacenza, in the north of Italy, will walk out for the whole of Friday November 24th, unions announced on Wednesday night.
Staff also voted not to accept any overtime from now until after Christmas – which, along with the Black Friday promotion, is typically retailers’ busiest time of year.
Unions are demanding pay rises to match Amazon’s growth in Italy. They complain that workers find themselves forced to do mandatory overtime, to work night shifts or sometimes for six days without a break to keep up with increasing demand.
“Amazon employees’ wages are the highest in the logistics industry and include benefits such as discounts on Amazon purchases, private health insurance and private medical care,” the company responded in a statement.
It said it was committed to “continuous dialogue and positive cooperation” with its employees and holds discussions with trade unions and workers’ representatives in Italy and across Europe.
“We remain focused on maintaining our delivery schedule on Black Friday and the following days,” Amazon said.
The multinational employs around 4,000 people at the Piacenza site, its only distribution centre in Italy. Half of the staff are on permanent contracts while half are called in to work as and when necessary.
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Italy is a smaller market for Amazon than Germany, the UK or France, but the US company has announced significant investment plans here including building a second warehouse near Rome, data centres in former power stations and an artificial intelligence research centre in Turin.
It faces criticism over its tax practices, however, with Italy joining other European countries in demanding a reform on the way that e-retailers pay tax.
Black Friday has made its way from the United States onto the Italian calendar, too, with companies offering promotions this year on everything from electronics to clothing, flights to hotel stays.
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP