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MILAN Amazon Italia has faced a new wave of strikes just ahead of the busy Christmas period.

The company’s employees in the distribution and logistics plant in Castel San Giovanni, Lombardy, protested on Wednesday against long working hours and low salaries, in the wake of Amazon’s skipping round table meeting with the trade unions scheduled on the morning of Dec. 20.

Fist-Cisl general secretary Pierangelo Ranieri described Amazon’s behavior as “deplorable” on the Cisl web site. “It’s necessary for Amazon to take on social responsibility and open to negotiations with the trade union’s representatives,” he said.

Following the first strike on Nov. 24, the Fist-Cisl trade union announced a second round yesterday, set to affect the last two working hours of each shift. The strike was announced at the logistics plant on Wednesday afternoon during a workers’ assembly.

Ninety percent of the employees who attended the assembly decided to strike, totaling 210 for each of the first two shifts. Francesca Benedetti, general secretary of Fisascat-Cisl Piacenza, provided no details on the overall engagement of the strike.

Amazon, which met that trade union’s representatives on Dec. 11, has since then refused to come to an agreement, according to Benedetti. Reached by phone, the trade union’s spokeswoman stated that “[Amazon] was not available to negotiate with the local trade unions, mainly because it disowns our role, but [confirmed] its willingness to negotiate with workers, which actually hasn’t brought to any solution for the past 18 months,” she said.

According to Benedetti, Amazon also delivered a certified e-mail in which, “they stated they did not guarantee the freedom of assembly, violating article 20 of the Worker’s Statute,” she said.

Aiming to bring the whole issue on a “higher level,” the CGIL, Fisascat-Cisl, UGL and UILTuCS trade unions sent out a joint letter to Amazon founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos, as well as to Italian minister of labor and social policies Giuliano Poletti; the minister for economic development Carlo Calenda; to Tito Boeri, the president of INPS, the country’s national social security institute, and to Massimo De Felice, president of the Italian work-related injuries insurance institute. The provocative note aims to “open a national dispute with Amazon, in front of the ministers,” insisted Benedetti with the goal to solve the matter.

According to a statement released on Wednesday, Amazon said it is “always willing to cooperate with the authorities to fully provide information on its business activities.” To this end, Amazon met with the prefect of Piacenza, but not with the unions on Wednesday. “Amazon is committed to an incessant dialogue and positive cooperation with its employees and to create an inclusive and attentive workplace,” the e-tailer stated.

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