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Germany – Amazon sues works council over agency workers

19 March 2013

Online retailer Amazon is suing its works council in order to continue hiring 65 temporary agency workers. The company wanted to extend the contracts of the agency workers from February to the end of March, but the works councils refused to give its approval of the plans.

Following an initial conciliation hearing this week in the labour court of Fulda, the judge said the urgency of the matter entitled Amazon to the continuous employment of the agency workers. The judge, Christine Schwarz, said that only a concrete violation could stop the further employment of the agency workers.

The works council had refused to support the company’s employment plans because the agency workers are supplied by Austria-based staffing company Trenkwalder. The recruiter was last month implicated in a high-profile media case.

A TV report showed how seasonal agency workers were harassed by security guards while working at Amazon over Christmas. The federal agency then launched an investigation into Trenkwalder and threatened to revoke the operating licence of the staffing company. The lawyer representing the works council, Markus Pfeifenberger, said: “The staffing firm is regarded as dubious by the works council.”

Amazon said it relied on agency workers to support trading in the run-up to Easter. The firm also announced plans to directly hire half of the agency workers on a fixed-term basis next month.

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