Amazon workers at six German locations were on strike on Friday to coincide with peak sales day — Black Friday — to gain leverage in negotiations on better pay and working conditions.
Workers in the towns of Bad Hersfeld, Leipzig, Rheinberg, Werne, Graben and Koblenz stayed away from work from midnight (2300 GMT) onwards and planned to continue their strike called by the Verdi union until the end of the late shift on Saturday.
Ronny Streich, a representative from Verdi said “in the name of Jeff Bezos and the customers, workers are expected to deliver top performances on Black Friday under working conditions that will make people ill in the long-term.
“Something has to change and Amazon must finally face its responsibilities.”
Meanwhile, in Italy, Amazon was also facing work stoppages, with more than 500 workers at the Castel San Giovanni warehouse in the province of the northern town of Piacenza, abstaining from work from 6 a.m. on Friday to 6 a.m. on Saturday.
Italian unions have criticised the United States (U.S.) multinational for refusing to negotiate higher salaries and bonuses, “despite the enormous growth’’ enjoyed by Amazon in Italy, where it operated for the past seven years.
Origin of ‘Black Friday’ used for day after Thanksgiving
In the past, the term “black” used with any day could signal a major day of disarray, disaster or loss. For example, many historic days like a 1935 Midwest dust storm or the death of Dale Earnhardt have used the term “Black Friday.”
For a lesser destructive day, Black Friday was applied to the day after Thanksgiving back in the 1950s when a factory trade magazine referred to workers calling out sick in order to have four days off over the Thanksgiving weekend. After all, Thanksgiving is a federal holiday. The Friday after is sandwiched in between off days.
The term was first applied to shopping in the Philadelphia area. Newspapers at the time used the term to describe law enforcement’s dealings with large crowds.
One public relations expert recommended replacing “black” with “big” since, of course, the word was applied to general calamity.
The term eventually stuck when the New York Times used it in 1975 to describe the shopping day. Still, the rest of the country outside of the northeast U.S. had no idea about “Black Friday.”
By the 1980s, stores and merchants began accepting the term since sales in other parts of the year lagged behind, or were “in the red.”
The thinking behind adopting the term stemmed from the day’s profitability. It brought merchants “in the black,” and thus, Black Friday was an appropriate term.
Today, we’ve seen Black Friday expand beyond just the day. Stores have trickled savings into Thanksgiving night and online on “Cyber Monday.”