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Germany – Amazon’s security firm accused of intimidating temporary workers

15 February 2013

Online retailer Amazon said on Thursday, according to various press reports, that it will investigate reports that temporary staff, at its logistics centres in Germany, were subjected to a climate of intimidation.

Germany’s ARD television channel made the allegations in a documentary about Amazon’s treatment of more than 5,000 temporary staff from across Europe working at the company’s German packing and distribution centres.

The programme suggested that temporary staff were paid less than promised, faced constant searches and were intimidated by security staff wearing clothes linked to Germany's neo-Nazi scene.

"Amazon tolerates no discrimination or intimidation," Amazon spokeswoman Ulrike Stoecker told The Associated Press in an email. "Even though the security company wasn't hired by Amazon we are of course examining the allegations (...) and will take appropriate measures immediately".

Amazon has more than 7,700 permanent employees at seven distribution centres in Germany, but hires thousands more to fulfil a surge in orders before Christmas.

The German union ver.di says Amazon workers have for years complained of intense pressure, random searches and short breaks. It says many of the temporary staff come from other European countries where unemployment is high, and the Amazon jobs are highly prized.

This latest criticism comes after Amazon faced protests about its use of temporary workers in the UK earlier this week.

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