Feature

Germany: Is Amazon breaking labor laws?

Amazon is running what amounts to a labor camp right here in Germany.

Lars Langenau
Süddeutsche Zeitung

Amazon is running what amounts to a labor camp right here in Germany, said Lars Langenau. A documentary aired on German television has exposed “disgusting, inhuman” working conditions in the online retailer’s German warehouses. The filmmakers allege that foreigners from across Europe are “lured by false promises” to Germany. They’re told they will be working directly for Amazon for decent wages, but they are actually given contracts with a temp agency at much lower rates. Their housing and bus fare are docked from their wages, and many are forced to work 15 days in a row. Isolated from the rest of society, most of these workers “have no idea” that German law entitles them to better treatment. On the job, they’re kept running up and down the warehouse aisles—and were until recently under constant surveillance and intimidation by skinhead guards wearing Thor Steinar clothes, “a brand particularly popular among neo-Nazis.” Hit by “an avalanche of criticism,” Amazon fired the security firm days after the documentary aired—but it has yet to address the rest of the allegations. Already, hundreds if not thousands of Germans have canceled their Amazon accounts. Could these revelations spell the end of Amazon’s dominance in Germany?

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