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Fight, Sue, Win!

Published on Dec 05, 2013 Tags: , ,
A FAU member will finally get paid back wages after two years. His former employer, Messeshop, was defeated in court last Wednesday. This case is a perfect example of the exploitation of inexperienced migrant workers in Germany and will hopefully embolden people to resist such precarious types of employment.

Last Wednesday, the Magdeburg Labour Court heard the case about wages owed to a FAU member. The union member was employed from February until March 2012 at Messeshop, a trade fair stand construction company based in Eimersleben near Magdeburg. Now, almost two years later, he can finally breath a sigh of relief: The lower court sided with him, ordering Messeshop to pay him in full and to carry the court costs. A second union member's case is still to be decided.

Both of the Spanish colleagues were officially working for Messeshop as self-employed subcontractors. They worked at the Berlin trade fairs Fruit Logistica and ITB. The FAU Berlin became active after they were not paid punctually. After Messeshop did not respond to the FAU Berlin's repeated calls to pay its members, the union gradually put on the pressure. Even though the company found the union's actions very annoying, the manager Maria Puell remained stubborn. The manager was especially peeved about the online petition, whereby hundreds of emails protesting against her employment practices bombarded her inbox over a period of weeks.

Messeshop is a prefect example of how migrants in Germany are forced to take on dubious jobs where they fall prey to employers who take advantage of their inexperience. It is thus also a success for the FAU Berlin that the court agreed with their argument that such types of employment should be considered regular employment and not self-employment. The FAU Berlin laid great weight upon exposing this wide-spread and dodgy practice, whereby unwitting foreigners are hired as pseudo freelancer by companies that want to scrimp on social security contributions and strip the workers of their labour rights.

The exploitation of migrant workers has also been addressed by the FAU Berlin's foreigners' section, which has produced a flyer about labour rights in Germany that is available in 15 languages.

Further information: Messeshop overview page

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FAU Berlin is currently restructuring! This means that we are reducing some of our public activities, to focus on our strategy for the future. Throughout this time we are still providing support to our membership. If you are a member and need assistance, don't hesitate to contact your section/workplace group, or drop into our open Lokal on Fridays.

Intro and advice
Introductory seminar: FAU – How does it work? - Cancelled until further notice.
Open FAU office: Every Friday, 5:00–8:00 PM.
union help desk: always on the 2. and 4. Friday of the month, 6:30 – 7:30 PM.
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