DGB Germany assists exploited workers from Eastern Europe

Many immigrants in Germany are forced to accept humiliating and poorly paid jobs. Often these people are unaware of their rights and some companies take advantage of this. Now Germany’s trade union federation launched a battle for the rights of these people, Deutsche Welle reported.

Workers from Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and Lithuania are heading at Germany in a zeal for better life and higher payment. However, they are often badly surprised by the reality – hard work, humiliating conditions, low or no payment at all. The immigrants are usually hired in the sectors of construction, transport, cleaning, at restaurants or hotels.

The German trade union federation (DGB) opened information centres in the big cities in the frames of the Fair Mobility project, which aims at assisting the exploited workers from East Europe.

The Centre of Counseling for Migrants of the German Trade Union Federation (DGB), which has provided consultations since 1970, was transferred to “Arbeit und Leben e.V” on 01.01.2008. The team provides free of charge assistance to citizens of all nationalities regardless their trade union membership. The Centre of Counseling for Migrants is supported by the Berlin Senate Department of Integration, Labour and Women. As well as German we provide consultations in Turkish, Polish, Russian, Greek, Kurdish, Arabic, French and English. The multi-national team provides assistance to citizens of all nationalities in relation to social law, labour law and immigration law.

The Counseling office for posted workers for the Berlin region assists temporarily employed workers in Berlin and surrounding area since 2010. The focus of the assistance offered lies on questions related to labour and social law.

The Fair Mobility project assists in the enforcement of fair wages and working conditions for migrant workers from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries on the German labour markets since 2011. The project lies within the political responsibility of the DGB Executive Board. It is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the European Social Fund. Within the project framework six local advisory centres have been established (Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dortmund, Stuttgart, Munich); a study has been conducted to develop recommendations for political action and educational and training materials are being developed. Moreover, the staff is being trained in further advisory centres which are associated with trade unions.

Furthermore, the DGB premises also host a counseling center for Turkish nationals on pensions and a counseling center for Italian nationals of the UIL (Ital-UIL Germania e.V.).

Trafficking for labour exploitation in Europe needs to be better addressed. While actors in the field have only discovered a tip of an iceberg, any solution to the problem will require understanding of new trends, developing new responses and partnerships.

For that reason trade unions, NGOs and faith based organizations launched a partnership to contribute to anti-trafficking response in Europe. Through the new project ITUC, together with Anti-Slavery International and Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe as international partners, will improve responses to labour trafficking. The three organzations, as well as national partners in Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Romania and Spain will in particular focus on exploring new trends in trafficking – such as gender dimension of labour trafficking, more and more severe exploitation of increasingly large groups of exploited migrant workers in mainstream economic activities and new labour trafficking recruitment methods including the use of Internet and ICTs.

The FINE TUNE project is supported by the ISEC/EU DG Home grant and it forms a part of the ITUC global action for protection of rights of trafficked workers and strenghtening labour standards for decent work.