This post has been updated with additional information from Verdi.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos received a hostile reception when he arrived in the German capital to pick up an innovation award on Tuesday (Apr. 24).
Trade union Verdi confirmed that “several hundred Amazon workers,” who are members of the powerful union, amassed outside the offices of publisher Axel Springer, where the awards ceremony was taking place, carrying placards reading “Make Amazon Pay.” Amazon workers from other countries, including Poland and Italy, also traveled to Berlin to join the demonstration.
Verdi boss Frank Bsirske said: “We have a boss who wants to impose American working conditions on the world and take us back to the 19th century.” Verdi has for years been a constant thorn in Amazon’s side in Germany, organizing workers strikes to demand improved pay and working conditions.
Andrea Nahles, the new leader of the Social Democrats (coalition partners in the federal government), turned up at the protest too. She had some harsh words for Bezos, telling reporters that he didn’t deserve his prize since he treats his employees badly. Amazon employs some 16,000 people in Germany, which is its biggest market outside the US.
Nahles yesterday also labeled Amazon and other big tech companies “world champions in tax avoidance.”
Bezos defended Amazon in a fireside chat with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner on Tuesday evening, saying he was “very proud of our working conditions and I am very proud of our wages that we pay.”