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Barist Conflict Ends Successfully

Published on Jul 22, 2016 Tags: ,
A member of the FAU Berlin has ended his salary lawsuit against the operator of the Barist restaurant successfully with a settlement. The operator's countersuit, which sought compensation for damages from the union member, has been dropped – the former employee was accused of inciting his union to carry out alleged “illegal” actions.

On July 20 the second hearing of the case of a member of the FAU against his former employer, DEVI Gastro GmbH, took place. DEVI Gastro runs the Barist Restaurant at Berlin Hackerscher Markt where the union member worked selling ice cream. Since October 2015, the union member, along with the FAU, have been in a dispute with DEVI Gastro over unpaid wages and holiday pay. Through emails, phone calls and demonstrations, the FAU Berlin had called on the company to comply with its legal obligations and to pay the union member.

At the first hearing on April 22, DEVI Gastro's lawyer claimed they did not owe the FAU member any money and were unwilling to pay him one cent. The FAU member's lawyer maintained his mandate's claim but expressed a willingness to negotiate.

DEVI Gastro accepted a settlement at the second hearing. Photos of the time sheet, signed by the management, backed up the union member's claim. The judge stated that he can only recommend to all employees to collect evidence of their work hours for further reference. The judge further supported the FAU member's claims for more holiday pay, which were based on a clear formulation in his contract.

The FAU Berlin is often confronted with cases where workers' pay is withheld or rights are denied, especially in the gastronomy section and among migrant workers. Many workers accept this practice. But when workers resist, the often face long labor conflicts against bosses who are in a better financial position. The bosses would rather invest thousands of euros in legal fees rather than give in to legitimate demands of the workers, which (as in this case) usually amount to hundreds of euros. Getting organised in a union early on helps in such cases.

DEVI Gastro also filed a countersuit against the FAU member. In it, they blamed the FAU member for alleged illegal actions against Barist on the part of the FAU and claimed almost EUR 8,000 in damages. They contended that the union member was culpable for the FAU's actions because they were carried out on his request. Leaving aside the question of whether a union member could indeed be responsible for a union's actions, the judge stated that DEVI Gastro had done little to prove how much money in damages they had actually incurred.

With the settlement, the demands of the union member have been met. Thus, the case is all but closed for the FAU. All that remains is the injunction against the FAU Berlin, which prevents it from protesting in front of the restaurant, criticizing it online, etc. The FAU has already asked DEVI Gastro to withdraw it.

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