Only management thinks

It seems that Germany has different values than the US:

Even as President Obama spoke about middle-class jobs last week at an Amazon warehouse in Tennessee, Amazon was facing strikes at warehouses in Germany, its second-biggest market. Unions there say the company has imported American-style business practices — in particular, an antipathy to organized labor — that stand at odds with European norms.

“In Germany, the idea that warehouse workers are going to be getting opposition from an employer when it comes to the right to organize, that’s virtually unheard-of,” said Marcus Courtney, a technology and communications department head at Uni Global Union, a federation of trade unions based in Nyon, Switzerland. “It puts Amazon out in left field.”

Amazon is hardly out there alone, however. Large American technology companies are increasingly running into obstacles as they expand in Europe. For Facebook and Google, the running issue is privacy. Google was fined this year by German authorities for illegally collecting personal data while creating its Street View mapping service, after facing minimal sanctions over Street View at home. Meanwhile, European privacy regulators are considering tough regulations to protect consumers on the Internet, a direct challenge to Google, Facebook and other online companies that mine personal data.

Antitrust officials in Europe are scrutinizing Apple’s relationships with wireless carriers, as well as Google’s competitive practices. And Google, Apple and Amazon have all been criticized by European lawmakers for tactics that help them minimize their tax bills.

So, Germans care more about workers, privacy, and consumers. There’s a great write-up about an Amazon warehouse here (with more here–by the way, the Morning Call newspaper has done a better job reporting here than most major newspapers).

In a comment by an Amazon official to the Germany situation you see how managers think of their employees:

Dave Clark, the company’s vice president of worldwide operations and customer service, says Amazon views unions as intermediaries that will want to have a say on everything from employee scheduling to changes in processes for handling and packaging orders. Amazon prizes its ability to quickly introduce changes like these into its warehouses to improve the experience of its customers, he said.

Last year, the company spent $775 million to buy a manufacturer of robots that it plans to eventually deploy in its warehouses, though it has not said when they would come to Germany. The last thing it wants is to have to get approval from unions for such changes.

“This really isn’t about higher wages,” Mr. Clark said. “It isn’t a cost question for us. It’s about what our relationship is with our people.”

Ya see, workers could never have a good idea. Oh, and Mr. Clark, if you’re fighting to keep the pay of the workers lower, then it is about the higher wages.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Bezos has plausible deniability | Petunias

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