Italy: Amazon workers strike over conditions

By Janet Post
April 5, 2021

Thousands of Amazon workers across Italy struck for 24 hours March 22 after talks over onerous schedules and working conditions for delivery workers broke down. This was the first national strike against Amazon there, involving warehouse workers, drivers and those at distribution hubs. There are 9,500 full-time workers at Amazon hubs in Italy and 30,000 at Amazon-contracted delivery service providers.

The full-time workers are members of the transport division of three national unions: Italian General Confederation of Labor (FILT-CGIL); Italian Confederation of Workers’ Unions (FIT-CSIL) and Italian Labor Union (UIL). Amazon’s third-party delivery services are represented by Assoespressi, a bosses’ association.

The unions said over 75% of the workers joined the strike. They’re demanding contract improvements in workloads, overly long workweeks, shift times, lunch vouchers, bonuses and travel payments.

“We’re not asking for pay rises right now, but for a more humane working schedule,” FIT-CISL Secretary General Salvatore Pellecchia told Reuters. “These people make at least 100 stops a day, each involving not one but often two or three parcel deliveries.”

Amazon has been unwilling to hold discussions with the unions. The bosses say their refusal is because their logistics operations include third-party delivery service providers. They argue the unions should negotiate directly with Assoespressi and the delivery providers, not with Amazon. The unions did meet with Assoespressi, but the talks collapsed.

Amazon workers in Italy have stood up to the company before. Amazon drivers struck the company in Vigonza Feb. 16 over speedup, wages and lack of COVID-19 protection.

In 2017 Amazon workers struck the biggest facility in Italy, the Castel San Giovanni hub, over wages, better working conditions and for permanent jobs. Of the 4,000 workers there, more than half are part time.