Amazon workers in Barcelona strike over warehouse closure

FILE PHOTO: A worker moves boxes at a packaging area inside Amazon distribution center in El Prat de Llobregat

MADRID (Reuters) – Workers at an Amazon logistics centre on the outskirts of Barcelona protested on Thursday on the second day of an indefinite strike sparked by the company’s plans to shut down the warehouse and relocate employees to other provinces.

They have staged pickets at the entrances to the warehouse, but union leaders said they were allowing truck drivers to enter and leave the centre where 800 people work and accused Amazon of acting “in bad faith” by calling riot police to clear the area on the first day.

Amazon declined to comment on the ongoing dispute.

On Jan. 11, the delivery giant announced it would close the warehouse in the Martorelles suburb and shift its activity to the city of Zaragoza, some 300 km (186 miles) west of Barcelona.

While Amazon said all employees would be transferred to other logistics centres in Spain without any job losses, trade unions described the move as “disguised layoffs” and said the collective bargaining deals in other provinces would result in worse pay conditions for workers.

“Does Amazon really need to make more profit? It has more millions than entire countries,” Elisenda Mas, a spokesperson for Spain’s largest union CCOO, told Reuters. “It’s shameful.”

She said that Amazon’s latest offer for employees willing to move to Zaragoza or to Figueres in the neighbouring province of Girona – located 125 km north of Barcelona – was a one-off relocation bonus of 3,000 euros ($3,280) plus an unspecified amount spread out in 12 monthly instalments.

But the separate collective bargaining agreement in those provinces would entail a pay cut of at least 700 euros per month, she said, adding that moving away from Barcelona, where her husband works and her child attends school, was not a viable option.

Striking workers are asking to be relocated to other Amazon warehouses within the province of Barcelona.

Last month, Amazon announced more than 18,000 job cuts globally, mainly impacting its e-commerce and human resources divisions, amid similar moves by tech companies such as Meta or Alphabet.

($1 = 0.9147 euros)

(Reporting by David Latona; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Barbara Lewis)