Czech driver sues Deutsche Post. The case in a German labour court may be a breakthrough for many truckers.

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Czech driver sues Deutsche Post. The case in a German labour court may be a breakthrough for many truckers.

German politicians and transport unions, “concerned” „about Eastern European drivers, push forward EU regulations to improve social conditions in transport. Meanwhile, companies such as Deutsche Post outsource deliveries to carriers from the East, although their drivers do not receive statutory compensation. The case went to court. Will Germans avoid responsibility?

Quick delivery and pilot tests of innovative solutions in the supply chain (e.g. drone delivery or car trunk delivery) make Deutsche Post AG – at least apparently – modern and progressive. Nevertheless, it turns out that the German company has two faces. Deutsche Post has been outsourcing delivery to sub-contractors for years now, they do not pay their drivers the statutory minimum wages and takes part in social dumping – report the German media.

Czech trucker wants his overdue salary

The topic surfaced thanks to the Czech driver. As reported by “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, the Czech employed in a freight forwarding company from Prague and performing deliveries for Deutsche Post, learned about MiLoG accidentally. MiLoG (Mindestlohngesetz or the Minimum Wage Law) entered into force in Germany in 2015. According to the driver, he was receiving EUR 550 monthly for his work for the German company.

The man decided to sue Deutsche Post to the Labour Court in Bonn. He demands his salary to be aligned to the statutory minimum wage for the period worked on behalf of the company. The Czech calculated that he should receive additional EUR 8302.50 for his work from October 2015 to August 2016.

But why would he sue the German company instead of his direct employer? Because the minimum wage provisions apply both to the employer and the general contractor (Deutsche Post), and in this case the employed driver may choose which of the supply chain participants will align too low salary. The Czech trucker is represented by ver.di lawyers (United Services Trade Union).

Deutsche Post does not feel guilty

The German company refuses to take responsibility for too low salaries and claims that payment of statutory minimum wages is the obligation of foreign sub-contractors. The company “already at the level of tender commits to respect the law, including labour law and to comply with the minimum wage law” – said the spokeswoman of the post to “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.

The Contractors confirm it in writing when concluding an agreement” – she claimed.

Ver.di lawyers invoke the employer’s responsibility regardless of the fault. If the Czech wins in court, this could open the way for thousands of subsequent lawsuits – notes the German newspaper.

3 thousand drivers from the East work for Deutsche Post

The story of the Czech driver is just one of the many. “Süddeutsche Zeitung” also writes about the Pole, who works for the Deutsche Post on similar terms. He receives EUR 850 for his work and basically lives in a truck. Each month, he spends 3 weeks this way, providing services for Deutsche Post. He does not earn even half of what the driver employed directly in the company gets. According to the newspaper, the post works with approx. 3 thousand of the so-called ”service partners” from the East. Most of them earn EUR 400-600 per month – Polish companies pay a bit more, and Bulgarian ones pay less. Certainly, the German company gains the biggest profit, using contractual provisions as an excuse for avoiding responsibility for involvement in social dumping.

A loud report of ZDF about Deutsche Post

Moreover, the story of the Czech driver is not the first one described by the German media. This January, the German television ZDF broadcasted a report on bad treatment of Deutsche Post and DHL-Delivery employees. Ironically, the program was aired on the same day, in which the German minister of transport signed in Paris the “Road alliance” to fight against social dumping.

Pressure, lack of respect and ever higher requirements, which the employees are not able to meet – those are complaints of postmen, whose jurisdictions have been increased to generate savings. ZDF broadcasted a comment of a postman who has been working for Deutsche Post for 20 years.

In the beginning, I had to deliver mail to 600 homes, now it is up to 1400” – said the man.

Lack of respect and high requirements are also complaints of couriers who decided to transfer to DHL Delivery. Basically they had no choice. They heard: “It is either change or employment agency”.

Couriers interviewed by the ZDF journalist spoke of worn, holey uniforms and standards impossible to meet. As a result, if the recipient is not home, DHL employees do not have the time to leave the parcel with a neighbour, so they only leave advice notes. They also admitted they falsify the receipts. „The pressure forces us to do that” – said one of them in the report.

ZDF editorial office invited the company to participate in the programme, but unfortunately Deutsche Post refused and only responded to allegations in writing.

Comment of the editorial office

Entrepreneurs from the East, who do not pay their employees the statutory salary, are responsible not only for poor work results of their drivers, but also for the bad image of the entire eastern transport industry.

Without doubt, however, the criticism is also well deserved by the German company who willingly uses those cheap services, while taking no responsibility and only gaining profits.

On the one hand, social dumping is used by Germans as an excuse to exile eastern companies from the European market. On the other hand – Germans use such services themselves.

It seems that the actions of the German government and the European Commission against unfair practices in transport should be aimed not only at the East of Europe…

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