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tv   Reporter - On Location  Deutsche Welle  July 25, 2020 4:15pm-4:29pm CEST

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and a reminder of the top story we're following for you sounds of people ground in the 4 eastern city of coveralls following the arrest for their governor on the murder trying to because they say he's only guilty of defeating the ruling party's candidate in the last election watching d.w. news i'll be back with more news in 45. before inspections our bosses said get your masks on and keep your mouths shut and don't say a word even if you speak german alex p. from romania worked for germany's biggest meat producer turn yes unpaid overtime no protection from the coronavirus poor living conditions experiences shared by tens of thousands of contract workers in germany when they include fruit picker marianne acosta how can this abuse be happening.
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alex b. is actually a pseudonym and he does not want us to show his face still he's braver than others we asked dozens of workers in the german meat industry for an interview but most of them declined for fear of losing their jobs alex being knows what that's like until recently he was working on a processing line at 10 years. i quit because they were unfair to us overpayment they stiffed us on over time instead of 8 hours with a 45 minute break we worked 10 to 13 hours a day after that you'll finished mentally to. alex says this is a matter of course in the meat industry workers are. targets produced
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and that can barely be achieved in 8 hours the system is intrinsically exploitative . those who complain their jobs right away. he adds that other german labor standards aren't met either. we work in a cold environment the conveyor belt goes really fast and you break a sweat some. many were threatened that if they got sick one more time they'd be fired that's absurd it says in the contract that you have the right to be written. now to news is being investigated for violating a law requiring employers to prevent the spread of infectious diseases but alex b s contract wasn't with the meat producer itself he signed up to work for a subcontractor an external company that takes on some of 10 years' production most
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of the workers come from southeastern europe the terms of employment are dictated by the subcontractor meaning that it ultimately has responsibility for the working conditions rather than the meat producer. germany's worst coronavirus. perhaps one reason is that workers stand shoulder to shoulder on production lines and they live in overcrowded dormitories. no one told us that $10.00 to $12.00 people would be living together in a single apartment imagine an apartment with 2 bedrooms with a living room filled with bunk beds for sleeping and it has one bathroom and a kitchen. the workers paid between $2250.00 euros a month to live in an apartment that is cramped filthy and even moldy and that during the coronavirus pandemic. we are shown similar
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photos by another native of romania. he works for the german trade union confederation. advising contractual. no workers from southeastern europe many of them work for so contractors says these companies are buying up houses to accommodate workers and that's causing problems locally. in the german state of north rhine-westphalia for example subcontractors are buying so much real estate that the prices are being driven up and now the people who live there can no longer afford to buy their own homes. and that's not the only reason this of contracting system is being so hotly debated but how does it actually work in the meat industry for example. if a company x. doesn't have enough personnel then it gets the workers through an external service
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provider company why that's the sub contractor who takes on production at company x. the workers therefore are under contract with the sub contractor even though they are working at company x. . and if company y. doesn't have enough people then it hires them from companies called. contractor. but. this worker can't complain directly instead he's got to work it out with the subcontractor that's when the main company says what happens down here is no longer my problem. these networks are often impenetrable and difficult to monitor nevertheless in germany a social welfare state should not be possible to check on how workers are housed and what their working conditions are like mario says yes in theory the german customs and health authorities are responsible for that yet things don't always go
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as they should at inspection time he cites one example in bavaria. all of the drive toward each of the 3 visits made by customs inspectors were announced ahead of time . by this curious that looks like this could happen with the customs authority or city as if there's a more they're giving the game away or in view the end of thought and it's not just the one customs office in central franconia instead there's a whole level at which this information is being gathered what do they form what you want to get on with. our companies actually being warned on a large scale that's a serious allegation we ask at the central customs authority if they know about such cases of announced inspections their response we have no evidence of that. we travel to romania most of the contractual and seasonal workers in germany come from the poorest parts of the country many villages here are practically
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depopulated as is today need in southern romania. mary on a cause day i spent the past 2 months working as a fruit picker on a farm in the various she says she couldn't stand it any longer before that she'd worked in italy for 13 years. while she was away her children stayed at home with their grandmother. the little ships above but i couldn't accept sleeping 8 to a room and that any people would share one bathroom with a kitchen for 30 people give us a little muscle to me wanted to give. her greatest fear was catching the coronavirus. i had only one mask if i'd known that we wouldn't get any
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masks from our employer during quarantine i'd have taken 2 or 3 more sometimes i even wore it when it was a wet. i was afraid to go to work i didn't see many bus but with 14 or 15 people in it some of them standing a few on the floor and some sitting on others. germany's covert 1000 protection rules should have applied to the eastern european fruit pickers. in germany at the bavarian farm where mariana picked strawberries we tried to get a look behind the scenes. we asked the farmer operator but he doesn't want to speak to us. he refused every request for an interview. in april 2020 germany's coronavirus lockdown was enforced streets were empty the
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borders were closed and planes were grounded nevertheless berlin and bucharest agreed to make an exception to address the massive shortage of agricultural workers in germany. tens of thousands of harvest workers came aboard charter flights from romania to germany mariano was on one of them today she regrets it. i went back home with almost no money and i was sick. and i had to pay more than $100.00 euros for a doctor and antibiotics. and the job she just took her commission she didn't help at all. and mariana's case the broker wasn't a company just a private individual she charged $300.00 euros for mariano's travel costs and $150.00 as a fee. that's a double violation of the law job brokers in romania aren't allowed to charge commissions to check this we call
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a romanian company with online offers of good jobs in german farming we ask about one job in here that it involves strawberry picking on the field or in green houses and that the contract costs $100.00 euros that is a few we're told the pay is $9.00 euros $35.00 an hour 10 hours a day we ask about accommodations the answer is for people to a room the bed costs $6.00 euros 90 a day to be taken out of our wages and the bus trip there and back cost $240.00 euros just one short phone call and we've already uncovered an illegal thing as well as over time and transport i get out in prices. reports of rising numbers of coded $1000.00 cases that farms and meat processing plants in germany have forced policymakers there to act the country's labor minister. has pledged to ban contract
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labor in the meat processing industry as of 2021 but why isn't sub contracting being prohibited in other sectors of the economy where similar things are going on in farming for example the minister dodges the question. the coronavirus is a magnifying glass we're seeing things that were already problematic before sectors where it's a matter of monitoring occupational safety and we will impose stricter binding standards so that we're able to go more strongly into these areas that tend to be risky in the german parliament green party member. has been demanding tougher inspections for years in order to stop systematic exploitation. what i'm not satisfied with at all is the inspections at the moment the idea is just to agree quotas that's too little because even if we ban sub contracts it doesn't automatically mean that the working conditions a lot are houses what we need is good monitoring so the draft law doesn't go far
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enough for me. to marry on a cost didn't wait for the improvements she has had enough of germany and is looking for work in italy again. never go back to germany not on vacation not to visit never. meanwhile alex has found another job in germany he tells us he's willing to try again. if i have problems again in the contract isn't respected then i'll go back home what use is it to me if they just keep the ducting money and i end up earning as little as i would in romania. but he's determined not to be exploited.
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