Being an American, you generally see a fair amount of temp workers used throughout the US. Companies got smart in the 1970s, and began to ramp up a hiring program every fall (usually around October), and bring temp workers to handle the Christmas rush.
In the US, you have a number of groups to go out and recruit from. There's the recently unemployed folks who are eager for anything....even if it's only a job for twelve weeks. There's the college kid crowd, who'd ready agree to forty hours of night work throughout a week....just to help pay on some of their bills. Then you have the crowd who are already working forty hours during the regular job, and would like a second job which pays for an additional twenty to forty hours.
Over the past week or two....the Amazon guys in Germany have walked into some bad PR stuff. They did what they typically do in the US....carry a minimum staff for eight months out of the year, and then bulk up for Christmas. It would appear that they weren't doing fabulous business before 2012....just continually building each year. And in summer of 2012.....they knew this was going to be a big moment for the company....so you needed real manpower for Christmas of 2012.
The problem is....as the weeks went by in late summer and early fall, the Amazon guys appear to have discovered that temp workers just weren't going to be plentiful temps to hire. No college kids, no recently unemployed, and no folks looking for their second job to bulk up their pay situation.
So Amazon looked at the EU hiring rules, that Germany has to agree and work with. As long as you hire a EU guy from any country.....Germany has to accept it. So it appears that Amazon hired up a number of Spanish unemployed folks, and transported into Germany....with various guarantees (even some temp housing in the deal). As bad as the employment situation is in Spain....this temp deal in Germany sounded great.
So they arrived and found black uniformed Hess security guards at the warehouse....fairly tough and stringent on security. The pay? Some German news sources talk of the normal German taxes taken, and then some money taken to pay for their housing (which maybe the Spanish temps thought this was all free and part of the deal). At the end of this whole mess....the temps were unhappy and finally spoke up about this stuff.
Some German employment office folks are going to come out and visit.....ask for records, and ask Amazon to explain the accusations.
My humble guess is that Amazon will show that they went by the EU rule book, and they will be correct on that matter. The guards? They probably were excessive, and the appearance they gave of Nazi security was probably a serious blunder. The housing deal? They might have stumbled on this part of the situation, the government investigation might show that.
But we come to this odd moment....there's barely seven months left now....before the next round of serious Amazon build-up for Christmas 2013. What do you do? You really screwed up in 2012. You can't go back to Spain because no one there will dare work for you.
The German worker possibility? You've gotten a bad reputation so far for hiring temps, so you'd have hire folks at premium levels and significant pay. That's not the traditional Amazon way.
About the only way they will slide out and solve the next Christmas rush....is hire some company with a friendly name and let them act as the warehouse operation management team. Remove the Amazon logo on the front of the building, and invent something new and generic to reinvent the reputation of Amazon.
Germany just isn't a place where temp workers exist, and if you do find some....they are in small quantities.