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4 Aug 2020

Philipp Grüll, Euractiv

Germany: Govt. reaches agreement on new rules to improve workers' rights in the meat industry

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"German labour minister announces stricter standards in the meat industry", 29 July 2020

At a press conference on Wednesday (29 July), Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) described the current conditions in the German meat industry as “organised irresponsibility,” as the government announced it had reached an agreement on new rules for the meat industry and on increased monitoring of working conditions across all sectors.

The sector has been the subject of criticism for years as it increasingly employs its staff through work contracts with subcontractors.

This saves costs for the employer but makes monitoring the situation challenging, given that contract and temporary workers usually face worse working conditions and have no workers unions.

In recent weeks, this criticism has intensified as several coronavirus clusters in slaughterhouses has thrown the poor working conditions and accommodation into sharp relief...

As of January 2021, the German government will ban work contracts in the industry and, as of 1 April, temporary work will also be banned, with the exception of companies registered as “craftsmen” (‘Handwerk’ in German) with fewer than 49 employees.

This should protect the small butchers in the country, because the problem lies with the “big meat factories,” said Heil...

[N]ew standards will also be rolled out for other German companies, with the introduction of new standards for employee accommodation as well as more labour law checks...