Germany: Truck drivers stage hunger strike to draw attention to exploitation
"Desperate foreign truckers stage hunger strike in Germany", 26 Sep 2023
It was the latest stage in an action described as “unprecedented” by union officials, and which has seen some 80 drivers set up an encampment using their vehicles at a motorway service station.
Believing their Polish employers would not respond to their growing desperation amid the 10-week strike, some of them stopped eating last week.
The truckers — mostly from Uzbekistan and Georgia, with a handful also from Tajikistan, Ukraine and Turkey — started to take food again at the weekend after several days, but the stoppage itself continues.
The drivers claim they are not being regularly paid their salaries — at a daily rate of about €80 — and were charged hefty amounts to even take the jobs in the first place. They say they also face inhumane conditions such as having to work extremely long hours...
The drivers work for several Polish trucking companies owned by the Mazur Group.
But in a statement, the group insisted that all salaries were paid “in a timely manner” and they had undergone a recent inspection which found no irregularities in payments.
The firm also sought to distance itself from the issue of fees paid to obtain visas or work recommendations, insisting the drivers had to take this up with “intermediary” companies whose services they had used to be recruited.
And they pushed back at the suggestion of forcing drivers to work long hours, saying they “cannot dictate to drivers the hours of daily work or the limit on days off,” adding this was the truckers’ choice.
The drivers transport a range of goods for major European companies, working in countries including Germany, France, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
While they receive regular small allowances for food, the truckers said they can go for months without receiving their salaries, and when it does come, it is usually lower than what they should be.
They are demanding €500,000 in what they say are unpaid wages.
They chose to stage their strike in Germany, rather than Poland, as they feel safer taking action there, said Edwin Atema, head of Road Transport Due Diligence Foundation...