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German television channel BR filmed a documentary titled „Slave Market Eastern Europe – German deals with cheap labour”. A Hungarian truck driver is one of the protagonists.

Romanian construction workers – 6 months of hard work without pay (Frankfurter Neue Presse), „Bulgarian immigrants exploited” (Weser Presse) – lately such headlines are more and more frequent in German press. BR television reporters decided to investigate the matter of „cheap labour in Germany” and were sent to the Hungarian driver Peter via the trade union.

  • He tried to tell his story in broken German.
  • He was employed by a German forwarder from Kassel.
  • He worked 35 days in the company before being released without payment (2500 euros).
  • He spent the last month on the road and slept in his truck.

He was left to fend for himself

What would he do with just 20 euros in his pocket? He had no means to even return home. He will spend one more night in the cabin because he won’t return the company’s DAF until he receives his payment. Will the forwarder agree to that? Just in case, he blocked the truck by parking the company’s passenger car in front of it.

Makeshift help from the trade union

The next day, the trade union who informed the reporters about Peter’s situation come to help the Hungarian. After a long conversation with the driver it turned out that the reason for his dismissal was an argument with the employer. The Hungarian complained about working conditions, especially in the transport of raw meat, which he had to load and unload with his own hands, without any gloves.

The union employee goes to the head of the dishonest company so that the driver is paid his overdue salary, preferably in cash. The forwarder says that he is busy and that he allegedly made the transfer the day before.

The case ended up in the Customs Office (Financial Inspection of the Illegal Employment) where a report on irregularities in the company was submitted. Peter finally receives money for the return ticket home from the German television because he cannot count on help from his homeland and the union cannot support him for formal reasons.

Editorial team comments: Dumping is not the real problem.

Such situations are common in Germany and other countries, not only in this industry. We should fight against frauds and illegal work.

Recent studies of the Brussels think tank Bruegel, HIVA institute from the University of Leuven and the Tresor-Eco report of the French government show that not the delegated employers are the source of dumping but people working illegally or on the basis of self-employment. There are 20 unregistered workers in the EU for one delegated employee.

The directive on delegating workers is targeted not only into Polish and other Eastern European workers but the companies that employ them.

Considering the negative, xenophobic attitude to others in the host countries which is more and more common, it will be much easier to eliminate an honest competitor from a Central or Eastern European country by accusing them that the salary was incorrectly calculated. Under the pretext of protecting the rights of workers the competing companies will be eliminated.” – says dr Marek Benio in the interview for He is the vice president of the

Labour Mobility Initiative (IMP), the largest European think tank dealing with the subject of delegating employees.

The delegated employees who need to earn more abroad are not the problem of the old European Union but the unregistered employees who work illegally” – he emphasises.

Instead of putting the spokes in the wheels of honest entrepreneurs who legally employ workers and pay contributions for insurance and taxes, it would be better to look closer at people working illegally. They are the people who are often exploited and left destitute. It seems, however, that the good of ordinary citizens is not at the core of the new directive on delegating workers but the interests of the largest European economies.



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