Forced Labour and Trafficking

German Food Workers fighting to end meat industry abuses

The German Food and Allied Workers Union NGG has long demanded a legal minimum wage of EUR 8.50 in its campaign to end wage dumping. Meat packing companies, in particular, exploit the absence of a legal minimum wage by hiring workers from eastern Europe through agencies which pay poverty wages.

source:IUF news

In response to the NGG’s campaign and growing media exposure of abusive practices the governments of 4 cities in the State of Lower Saxony recently signed an agreement with meat-packing companies and their labour contractors establishing a minimum wage of EUR 8.50 - with a catch. The deal allows the agencies to deduct from wages travel costs, rent and transport!

The NGG describes the city governments’ actions as a step in the right direction, but insists that transport, tools, and clothing must be paid for by employers, and will continue the struggle against abusive practices.

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.