As reported, workers went on strike to protest against low salaries and long working hours on Nov. 24, ahead of last year’s Black Friday, and again on Dec. 21 during Christmas time, with the support of the local Fisascat-Cisl trade union.
The agreement follows a roundtable held last February between the e-tailer’s local representatives and the trade union. “After a few months we have come up with a plan to reorganize the working shifts,” said Fisascat-Cisl Piacenza general secretary Francesca Benedetti, reached by phone. On Monday, 67.4 percent of the employees approved the new plan, during a workers’ assembly held at the Amazon hub.
“This is an important settlement in the logistics business, we obtained equity on the working shifts. It’s an unusual agreement within the Italian scene, it doesn’t exist elsewhere as it breaks the usual scheme,” said Benedetti explaining that the new plan will be tried over a 12-month period starting from June 17. The trade union and Amazon have also agreed to evaluate the plan’s outcome after a four-month stint.
The agreement entails that over an eight-week period, workers will benefit from four off-duty weekends, while during the remaining four they will work twice on Saturdays, once on Sundays and once on both days.
The new plan will also affect the night shifts, which will be on a voluntary basis only. Fisascat-Cisl negotiated a 10 percent rise of the gross hourly wage, up to 25 percent compared to the previous 15 percent. “We expect this to correspond with a salary increase of 75 euros to 95 euros depending on the period of the year,” explained Benedetti.
The Fisascat-Cisl spokeswoman expressed her mild enthusiasm saying the trade union “decided to cease fire when the company demonstrated its availability to negotiate.” Benedetti praised the company’s local management team for their “braveness.”
“The agreement could set a precedent as I hope this will benefit other European trade unions,” she said citing the first Amazon employees strike in Madrid last March, which registered a 98 percent attendance. Benedetti added that Amazon was perhaps concerned “that the trade unions’ network would become multinational,” explaining the management’s unexpected openness.
On the contrary, the official statement released on Wednesday by Amazon reads that the agreement “does not set a precedent. In every country we operate, we talk with the workers’ representatives. We firmly believe that having a conversation and a direct relationship with employees is the most effective way to answer their needs.”
The statement adds that the company “wants to be a fair and responsible employer, always willing to negotiate, which is distinctive of our values.”