Polish Amazon workers escalate push for better wages, working conditions
Days after German Amazon workers went on strike, Polish employees of the commerce giant have intensified their drive for higher pay and safer jobs this week.
The unions representing Amazon’s Polish workers, NSZZ Solidarity Union (Solidarność) and Workers’ Initiative (Inicjatywa Pracownicza), have announced a collective dispute that could eventually lead to a strike.
“The situation of Amazon Poland employees is dramatic, so we’ve decided to unite and act together to change it. We want to talk about how the work at Amazon looks like and present our solutions,” said Grzegorz Cisoń, chairman of Solidarity Union at Amazon Poland.
One of the unions’ key demands is a reduction of extremely high performance targets. Last year, the State Labor Inspectorate found that the grueling pace of the workload in Poland’s Amazon warehouses often exceeded the permissible norms specified in the country’s labor law.
Workers are also requesting a significant pay rise in all the warehouses owned by the company in Poland.
“The salaries of ordinary employees are currently only slightly higher than the country’s minimum wage in the country. Almost all goods from the Polish storehouses are sent to the German market. But an employee of the Amazon warehouse in Germany earns over 3 times more than a Polish employee, even without working at night and on Sundays,” said Maria Malinowska, a member of the Presidium of the Workers’ Initiative.
A collective dispute is a formal process in Poland, that triggers negotiation between the company and the unions. If they do not result in the agreement, the next step will be the mediation conducted by a mediator appointed by the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy. If that fails, workers can then call a strike vote at the company.
The American company that runs the world's largest mail order sales network employs roughly 16,000 Polish employees and another several thousand through external companies.
The dispute was announced during an action in from of the American embassy in Warsaw on May 9.