The Syndikat Rostock supports Ukrainian workers against the Polish employment agency Eurokontrakt.
At the beginning of the year, the Syndikat Rostock took over the representation for two Ukrainians. How did the contact come about?
Via the international secretariat of FAU. Nataliia had gotten support from solidarity colleagues in Ukraine (her home) and in Poland (headquarters of the private employment agency Eurokontrakt). She has been advised to contact the Polish trade union IP (Inicjatywa Pracownicza). Like us, the IP is organized in the International Confederation (ICL) and so we (Allgemeines Syndikat Rostock) came into play via the official communication channels, because Nataliia’s and Nadiia’s jobs are in our organizational area.
How did the conflict go? Could the outstanding wages finally be collected?
We have repeatedly demanded the outstanding wages in writing and by telephone. Nadiia finally got her money. So that Nataliia also gets her money, we will sue for the wages through a lawyer and continue to create publicity.
In Poland, there is public relations work against the Eurokontract, whose business model, according to a report on Polish broadcaster Polsat TV, is based on fraud. Colleagues cheated of their wages demonstrated in front of the Eurokontract headquarters and local media sometimes report about it. At the same time, there are also lawsuits against the euro contract in Poland.
In Germany the public seems to know nothing about the business practices of the private employment agency, many companies from the service and gastronomy resort to the “offers” of Eurokontract to get skilled workers placed for a certain period of time. As far as we know, it seems to be routine that Eurokontrakt initially pays the colleagues as agreed, but simply withholds part of the wages towards the end of the “operation”. But the employers in Germany are also being cheated: Eurokontrakt gives the appearance of hiring out employees, but does not forward the agreed remuneration to the colleagues in accordance with the contract and rejects any responsibility that would characterize a regular temporary work agency, e.g. B. Obtaining the necessary work permit,
For this reason, we initially encountered a lack of understanding from the managing directors of the local companies. All affected companies kept to the agreements with Eurokontrakt and paid Eurokontrakt according to the contract. They do not understand that they should now be held responsible for the fact that Eurokontract, for example, does not pay Nataliia and Nadiia as agreed. For them, the situation is as if they were to pay double wages if they would comply with our demands.
Who do you see as being responsible? The Polish temporary work agency or the German contractors?
Clearly the German companies. The work took place here in Mecklenburg and Western Pomerania, the colleagues acted according to the instructions of the managing directors or their representatives and contributed to the economic success of the local companies.
It should also not be forgotten that managing directors of service and catering businesses in Germany have a legally anchored responsibility to convince themselves that alleged providers of temporary workers comply with all legal minimum requirements. This is usually done by getting a clearance certificate from the hiring company (issued e.g. by the tax office, pension insurance, professional association, chamber of crafts or the trade office), and in some sectors the hiring out of employees is subject to notification.
Thus, German employers have neglected their duty of care.
When war broke out in Ukraine, how did you react?
Shocked. We are still very sad and feel powerless.
Even before there was talk of the Ukraine war in the German media, Nataliia wrote via a messenger, which we supporters use to keep in touch with her, that “they are bombing the whole of Ukraine”. I couldn’t imagine anything about it and thought that there must be some mistake in the translation. We kept in touch via Messenger and with Russian-speaking FAU members as interpreters and eventually picked up Nataliia and her six children from Berlin, where she had arrived after fleeing.
What situation are Nataliia and Nadiia in now?
Nataliia is safe with her children near Rostock. As a syndicate, we continue to provide support in all matters that arise after her arrival, such as accommodation, registration, looking for daycare and school places, etc. Nadiia is on the road, she also wants to leave the Ukraine for Mecklenburg.
Will wage claims be pursued any further?
With us, the members decide and of course we hope that Nataliia will go the whole way with us: on the one hand on the legal level with the help of a Rostock lawyer, on the other hand we will certainly have to be active in publicity and, for example, visit one of the affected workplaces.
Is there a way to support you?
We have already received a lot of organizational support from the Federation and from friends and syndicates from the North region of FAU regarding the wage demand and Nataliia’s escape, as well as donations from the FAU environment and the Rostock structures. That was very impressive. The current supporter: inner circle works reliably. As soon as we need donations or active support again, we will name this specifically and announce it throughout the FAU.
Thanks very much!