BERLIN — Amazon boss Jeff Bezos said he was “proud” of how his company treats its staff as he brushed aside criticism of working conditions.

“There are two kinds of critics: There are well-meaning critics, theyre worried its not going to work, but they want it to work,” Bezos said during a panel discussion Tuesday evening, before receiving an award for innovation from publishing house Axel Springer, co-owner of POLITICO Europe.

“[Then] theres a second kind of critic, which is the self-interested critic. And they come in all shapes and sizes … And when you are doing something in a new way, and if customers embrace the new way, whats going to happen is that incumbents who are practicing the old way are not going to like you.”

A noisy crowd of around 450 protesters greeted Bezos, the worlds richest man according to Forbes magazine, as he arrived for the ceremony at Axel Springer headquarters in central Berlin.

The demonstration was organized by German labor union Verdi, which has been in a dispute with the U.S. tech company over pay and conditions for years.

“I am very proud of our working conditions and I am very proud of our wages that we pay,” Bezos told the audience when asked about the growing backlash to his firm, adding that Amazon employs around 16,000 people in Germany.

Around the globe, Amazon has more than 560,000 workers, and reported a profit last year of slightly more than €2.45 billion. Germany is the companys second-biggest market after the U.S.

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