Christmas without Amazon
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English / German
Amazon increased its sales by 37 percent to a total of 96.1 billion dollars (82.3 billion euros) in the third quarter of 2020 and tripled its profits to 6.3 billion dollars during the Corona crisis. The company's share price has risen by 70 percent since the beginning of the year. This has made Amazon boss Jeff Bezos what is now the richest individual in the world. His assets were estimated at over 200 billion US dollars in August 2020. At the same time, according to the regional secretary of the international services union UNI Global Union, Oliver Roethig, Amazon has "some of the lowest paid workers in the EU".
Amazon is not only setting records in terms of profits, but also in terms of tax trickery. For years, the company paid no taxes at all in the USA, despite billions in profits, and even received tax refunds. Even within the European Union, Amazon paid virtually no corporate taxes thanks to tax havens in EU member states such as Ireland, Luxembourg or the Netherlands. This is even the case in Germany, where Amazon, according to its own figures, paid a total of 261 million euros to the state last year, with revenues of 19.9 billion euros - but to conceal the real tax rate, it also included all social security contributions paid by employees.
"Amazon is the industry's wage squeezer." In Spring the deputy managing director of the service trade union ver.di summed it up perfectly in the newspaper Westdeutsche Zeitung. Amazon obviously doesn't think much of fair payment, pays often only scarcely over the legal minimum wage of 9,35€ and remains thereby clearly behind the tariff wages of other online dealers in Germany. "Amazon is an employer that consistently strives to get a large proportion of its colleagues into temporary jobs."
Documents leaked from Amazon's Global Security Operations Center show that the company monitors political opponents worldwide. This was recently reported on by the media portal Vice. The security department is designed to protect Amazon's employees, vendors and assets. According to reports, Greenpeace, Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion and the trade union ver.di are under observation in Germany.
At Amazon, not only political opponents are monitored, but also the company's own employees. During working hours, for example, they are constantly monitored by security cameras. In a letter to the EU Commission at the beginning of October, representatives of trade unions from 15 European countries called for an investigation into Amazon's illegal surveillance practices against its own employees. Among the signatories was ver.di head Frank Werneke.
For years, Ralf Kleber, the head of Amazon Germany, has persistently refused to cooperate with the unions. Since 2013, members of the ver.di trade union have been striking in vain at more and more locations in order to reach a labour agreement. Amazon pays the lowest wages in the industry, there is no vacation pay at all, and the Christmas bonus is significantly lower than in collective agreements in the industry. Employees who take part in strikes are under a lot of pressure, are punished with worse work or individual discussions. Nevertheless: in the meantime, there are works councils at all Amazon locations, which was not a matter of course for many years.
We call upon the Amazon group, its president Jeff Bezos and Amazon Germany boss Ralf Kleber:
- End your blockade toward the trade unions and finally sign a labour agreement with industry-standard wages, vacation and Christmas bonuses for Amazon Germany.
- Stop the spying on political opponents by the Amazon Global Security Operations Center.
- Stop the surveillance of employees.
We call on the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen:
- Create binding rules for platform work at companies like Amazon that strengthen the rights of employees and guarantee minimum social and labor standards.
- Take measures to combat legal and illegal tax evasion and close tax havens in member states of the European Union.
- Introduce a digital tax in the EU so that companies such as Amazon contribute their fair share to financing the community.
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