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Union accuses Post of threatening workers

Service workers' union Verdi has accused Deutsche Post of trying to intimidate striking workers by threatening them with losing their jobs.

Union accuses Post of threatening workers
Postal workers on strike in April outside a branch in Munich. Photo: DPA

Verdi has already been in touch with Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who called on Post chairman Frank Appel to respond to the allegations, the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported on Wednesday.

Based on phone calls, minutes and notes taken by those affected, Verdi says that one of its members was told that “higher-ups” were watching who walked out on strike “and would be looking closely at the contracts of people in temporary posts”.

In one depot, a manager held one-on-one conversations with all the people on fixed-term contracts working under him who were taking part in a strike.

“Some were totally intimidated and told me that they wouldn't be taking part in any more strikes,” one union organizer said.

Verdi deputy chairwoman Andrea Kocsis sent four pages of anonymized allegations to Gabriel, saying that the times, choice of words and lines of argument showed a “systematically directed picture” of intimidation.

In a letter to Appel on May 4th, Gabriel appears to accept the accusations fully, saying that “apparently managers used pressure to turn Verdi members against their union”.

All employers, “especially large firms partly owned by the federal government,” should “be expected to respect individual and collective employee rights without reservation,” he wrote.

The federal government owns 21 percent of Deutsche Post.

Spokespeople for the Post told SZ in a statement that “putting pressure on Verdi members is not what we understand by leadership and communications”.

But it added that “it's obvious that our managers explain the firm's understanding of how competitive wages are necessary and discuss it with employees”.

Verdi has called Post workers out on strikes in a battle over wages, working hours, and the Post's plans to outsource some package deliveries.

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STRIKES

French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.

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