Workers at German warehouses of U.S. online retailer Amazon.com are on strike as part of a long-running dispute over pay and conditions. It's unlikely to delay Christmas orders and, as Sonia Legg reports, there are plenty of those - morale among German consumers has improved significantly heading into the New Year.
It's not the best time for a retail strike. But Amazon insists the industrial action by workers at six of its nine German warehouses won't affect deliveries. It doesn't do much for the image though - the dispute over pay and conditions has been going on since May 2013. (SOUNDBITE) (German) AMAZON WORKER AT STRIKE, HARALD SCHAEFER, SAYING: "It is important to us to fight for fair working conditions, decent pay and the honouring of our labour contracts." Germany is Amazon's second-biggest market after the U.S. with 10,000 warehouse staff. That number doubles over Christmas to deal with demand and it seems there's a bit more of that at the moment in Germany. Consumer morale has just shown its first rise since May. Confidence in the economy has also risen significantly. Jasper Lawler is from CMC Markets (SOUNDBITE) (English): JASPER LAWLER, MARKET ANALYST, CMC MARKETS, SAYING: "Given the backdrop in Germany the low levels of unemployment, steady wage growth, there is a lot of reason to believe that consumer sentiment can pick up again, particularly if we do see some better growth based on the more positive business sentiment in the rest of Europe." Euro zone consumer confidence also rose more than expected in December. But the ups often mean downs elsewhere - wages for example haven't kept pace with the recovery in some European countries. (SOUNDBITE) (English): JASPER LAWLER, MARKET ANALYST, CMC MARKETS, SAYING: "It does put more pressure on wages and if that does not come voluntarily through the corporations, we're probably going to see a bit more in the way of strikes in countries we don't normally think of it." Amazon is showing no sign of giving in in Germany - it's repeatedly rejected union demands.