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Fri Feb 15, 2013, 11:40 PM

 

Amazon (Germany) uses neo-nazis to keep immigrant labor under control

Amazon is at the centre of a deepening scandal in Germany as the online shopping giant faced claims that it employed security guards with neo-Nazi connections to intimidate its foreign workers.

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 to work at its German packing and distribution centres.

The film showed omnipresent guards from a company named HESS Security wearing black uniforms, boots and with military haircuts. They were employed to keep order at hostels and budget hotels where foreign workers stayed. “Many of the workers are afraid,” the programme-makers said.

The documentary provided photographic evidence showing that guards regularly searched the bedrooms and kitchens of foreign staff. “They tell us they are the police here,” a Spanish woman complained. Workers were allegedly frisked to check they had not walked away with breakfast rolls...

ARD suggested that the name “HESS Security” was an allusion to Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess. It alleged that its director was a man, named only as Uwe L, who associated with football hooligans and convicted neo-Nazis who were known to police. The programme-makers, who booked in at one of the budget hotels where Amazon staff were housed, said they were arrested by HESS Security guards after being caught using cameras. They were ordered to hand over their film and, when they refused, were held for nearly an hour before police arrived and freed them. The film showed HESS guards scuffling with the camera crew and trying to cover their lenses.

ARD said Amazon’s temporary staff worked eight-hour shifts packing goods at the company’s logistics centres in Bad Hersfeld, Konstanz and Augsburg. Many walked up to 17 kilometres per shift and all those taken on could be fired at will. On arrival in Germany, most were told their pay had been cut to below the rate promised when they applied for jobs at Amazon. “They don’t see any way of complaining,” said Heiner Reimann, a spokesman for the United Services Union (Ver.di). “They are all too frightened of being sent home without a job.”

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Reply Amazon (Germany) uses neo-nazis to keep immigrant labor under control (Original post)
HiPointDem Feb 2013 OP
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #1
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #2
reorg Feb 2013 #3
davidpdx Feb 2013 #4
davidpdx Feb 2013 #5
reorg Feb 2013 #6

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 12:23 AM

1. Amazon’s Thuggish Security Force in Germany Shows State Does Not Have a Monopoly on Violence

 

One of the canards libertarians like to sell is that the state has a monopoly on violence. They need to get a handle on some basic economic concepts, for starters: Economies of scale, Network effects, Barriers to entry.

Those three alone, which operate in many fields of commerce, means that the natural of that industry will be towards fewer and more powerful players, unless something intercedes (such as disruptive technology that changes industry boundaries or regulation). Fewer and more powerful players means oligopoly or monopoly pricing, which even neoclassical economists will admit happens and depict as a Very Bad Thing. This reason alone is why the overwhelming majority of economists that say they are in favor of “free markets” favor regulation to make them work properly. This is one of the many reasons we describe “free markets” as an oxymoron.

Concentrated power allows companies to behave thuggishly, sometimes in a literal rather than figurative manner. It is remarkable how, in the US, the story of the physical risks that early labor organizers and protestors took has been virtually airbrushed out of the record....

The programme-makers, who booked in at one of the budget hotels where Amazon staff were housed, said they were arrested by HESS Security guards after being caught using cameras. They were ordered to hand over their film and, when they refused, were held for nearly an hour before police arrived and freed them. The film showed HESS guards scuffling with the camera crew and trying to cover their lenses.

Notice that the goons held the filmmakers and the police “freed” them? That’s unlawful detention...So, Virginia, businesses can get too powerful and inflict violence to get its way. But you’ll never hear that from libertarians.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/02/amazons-thuggish-security-force-in-germany-shows-state-does-not-have-a-monopoly-on-violence.html

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 03:45 AM

2. lots of amazon customers here, i'll bet

 

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 04:44 AM

3. I was one of their first customers here

When I read about the enterprising young bookseller trying to set up an Internet business I immediately signed up and started ordering English books, something which was complicated and expensive to do from Germany before Amazon offered their services. They were quick, never failed and never cheated, shipping costs nil, and the mark-up was negligible compared to what you had to pay in other bookshops: sometimes more than 200 percent for publications ordered from the US.

Everything seemed perfect, until they became big and you heard what they are actually about. Trying to shut out unions and avoid labor contracts? Get the fuck out of Germany if you can't compete with other mail-order businesses in an orderly fashion. Businesses that actually have qualified managers who know the law and are able to deal with worker's representatives. As soon as I realized what was going on in their slave factories, I stopped ordering from Amazon.

This latest story about employing foreign "loan" workers at minimum wages, holding them in low-budget holiday colonies (constructed for summer vacations) during the winter months, under the supervision of neo-Nazis, it really takes the cake. From what I have read, the situation and atmosphere in their warehouses is not much different, though, even for the minuscule proportion of workers with ordinary, unlimited contracts. Extremely low pay, if any, no Christmas allowance, only 24 days of leave (legal minimum), it is a shame that this firm is still allowed to operate here. And this is without even mentioning their practices towards publishers and suppliers.

Thanks for posting the story!

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Response to reorg (Reply #3)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 05:13 AM

4. Unfortunately the company I use was acquired by Amazon

Which pissed me off because they are really good and deliver to where I am (South Korea). The markup by the bookstores here are just unreal especially for English books.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 05:13 AM

5. HESS?

What does that stand for Hilter's Employment Secret Service?

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 06:02 AM

6. HESS: We are neither right-wing nor left-wing extremists!

Or so their boss claims in a press release today.

Okay, so the allusive acronym was merely chosen by pure coincidence. As are the colors on their shirt collars, I suppose. Let me present (on the right) Mr Patrick Hensel, director of HESS (Hensel European Security Service):


http://extratip.de/2012/09/17/geschaeft-mit-sicherheit-boomt-bedarf-an-security-waechst-geeignete-leute-fehlen/

Why do Neonazis wear red-white-black flags?



They were the colors of the "Kaiserreich", before Germany became a republic. Neonazis regularly use them on their flags because the swastika would be illegal.


HESS insist in their job offers that applicants must have German speaking and writing skills (Deutsch in Wort und Schrift). Well, perhaps that's necessary for minimum wage jobs minding parking sites. But, interestingly, the director does not appear to be quite up to the task himself, I found several spelling errors on his page ...

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