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31 Jan 2017

Rachel Knaebel, Equal Times

Germany: Trade union alleges exploitation of subcontracted labour in meat industry

"Subcontracting exploitation in the German meat industry", 30 Jan 2017

Over the years, this German state [Lower Saxony] has become the heart of the millions of tons of meat consumed and exported by Germany [and] the site of all kinds of abuses in terms of the pay and working conditions imposed on slaughterhouse employees.  The plight of workers in the sector was gradually exposed a few years ago: gross hourly wages of €5 (US$5.20) or less, migrant workers from eastern Europe crammed into lodgings unfit for human habitation for which they had to pay hundreds of euros, working 12 to 14 hour days and extremely hazardous working conditions...In 2014, around 50 companies in the sector signed a code of conduct regarding their migrant workers’ accommodation.  The code is not legally binding but is a guideline they have committed to follow to prevent degrading living conditions.  Their subcontractors are also under an obligation, in principle, to respect the same standards...The improvements promised, for the most part, have not yet materialised...