The online retail giant amazon has to accept strike action on its company parking lots at least at some locations. The federal constitutional court dismissed two lawsuits brought by the mail-order company, confirming rulings made by the federal labor court in 2018.
Amazon is not violated by the strikes in its fundamental rights to property and entrepreneurial freedom of action, the highest german court in karlsruhe announced on wednesday. (az. 1 bvr 719/19 u.A.)
The background to this is the ongoing wage dispute with verdi. The union has been trying for more than seven years to get amazon to recognize the regional flat-rate collective agreements for the retail and mail order trade. The company is of the opinion that it is a responsible employer even without a collective agreement.
This case concerned strikes at the pforzheim and koblenz sites. There is a huge company parking lot in front of the main entrance, and most employees also come by car.
During the actions in 2014 to 2016, representatives of verdi had gathered with strikers directly in front of the entrance. Amazon wanted to take legal action to prevent such a thing from happening in the future, invoking its right of domicile. Verdi could just as well address the employees further away at the entrance to the parking lot.
But the federal labor court ruled that the strikes were permissible. Given the local circumstances, verdi could only address amazon employees at both sites in the company parking lot, the erfur court ruled in november 2018. Amazon had to accept the "short-term, situational impairment".
The constitutional judges have no objections to this. The labor court had "comprehensibly resolved the tension between property and the freedom of action of the company as employer and the freedom of association of the trade union. The union’s fundamental rights were "not unilaterally privileged". Verdi is also not to be blamed for not forming a strike lane. With 65 strikers on a nearly 30.000 square meters of coarse parking space, employees willing to work could park their cars and get to their workplaces without any problem.
Amazon reacted with displeasure to the decision. "We were always concerned about the safety of our employees," the global mail order company emphasized. "It is in the first place. Today’s decision won’t help avoid unnecessary traffic situations in the parking lot."Amazon has 15 logistics centers in germany with around 13.000 permanent employees.
Verdi announced that amazon had tried several times to ban the use of company parking lots during strikes. "The company must now, at the latest, acknowledge that wild-west methods are not appropriate either against the employees and their business rates or against verdi," said union secretary andre scheer. Verdi will continue to exercise its right to strike at amazon.
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