EXPLOITATION IN GERMAN MEAT INDUSTRY

An ILO study detailed 42 cases of forced labour in Germany, where migrant workers in particular find themselves tricked into situations where they are forced to work for low pay -- or no pay. ILO TV reports from Germany on a new union set up especially for workers away from home.

Date issued: 07 July 2005 | Size/duration: 00:01:46 (2.92 MB)
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In Germany, meat packers earn about 12 euros an hour.

In Romania, they have the same skills but work for a fraction of the wages. With the opening of Eastern Europe, they have been travelling to Germany in their thousands.

But to meet the demand for cheap labour by the German meat industry, unscrupulous middlemen bring migrant workers to big slaughterhouses like this one.

Markus Dieterich: NGG Gewerkschaft

It is modern day slavery because we’re talking about, traffickers, middlemen who send employees here to Germany who are not fully informed.

When these Romanians didn’t receive the wages they were promised they went on strike. So their employer sent men round to beat them up. They punched this worker in the face.

The employer was sentenced to three years imprisonment for trafficking and employing workers illegally.

The Romanian workers’ case came to light because they took it to a union, and went to court. But unions say it’s not an isolated incident.

Markus Dieterich

Often there is no possibility of finding out more because migrants don’t know the language. Sometimes their passports are taken away and they are exploited.

Many migrant workers are tricked into signing fake contracts then housed in unsanitary conditions and paid far less than their German counterparts.

An anonymous poster on a tree calls on butchers to protest against cheap foreign labour taking German jobs.

Consumers want to buy meat more cheaply but few of them realize that forcing down the price of meat may have meant forced labour for a migrant worker.