Up to 4,000 workers at Amazon’s despatch centre at Piacenza in northern Italy will be striking for better pay and conditions on Black Friday.
In addition, the workers organised by the unions Tertiary Ugl, Fisascat-Cisl, Filcams-Cgil, and Uiltucs-Uil decided on an overtime ban until 31 December, hitting Christmas shopping.
Amazon’s strong growth justifies a more generous pay package, unions argue. Amazon has been rapidly expanding across Italy, with revenues totalling around 2.5 billion euros between 2011 and 2015.
Earlier this year the Milan tax police reportedly told Amazon they believed the world’s largest online retailer has evaded around 130 million euros ($142 million) of taxes in Italy. Amazon allegedly shifted its revenues, generated in the Italian market, into the parent company based in Luxembourg, which is considered a tax haven.
Amazon has generated 2,000 jobs since it was established in the country in 2010 but workers complain of punishing ‘working rhythms’, obligatory overtime, year round night shifts, six day weeks and Sunday working for a wage set at the minimum required by the national collective contract for the retail sector.
Earlier this year Amazon was hit by protests by workers employed by a delivery firm subcontracted by the US multinational. One hundred odd workers were seeking job security should Amazon not renew the contract for deliveries to the Milan area.
Elsewhere in Italy’s so-called Gig Economy, Deliveroo workers are protesting over exploitative working practices.
The couriers argue their status as self-employed is false, and are calling for negotiations with the management of the US-based corporation to secure the application of a national collective bargaining contract, a minimum net wage of 7.50 euros an hour, a guaranteed minimum 20 hours a week, a 50% pay premium on work outside their shifts, a payment worth a 30% hourly pay premium in case of bad weather, allowances for distances greater than 3.5 kilometres from the pick up point, as well as an overall insurance cover for every worker.
Workers took German food delivery platform Foodora to court last month, in a first in Italy. Like their Deliveroo colleagues they reject the idea that they are autonomous self-employed workers and want “full employment benefits”.