Criticism of Germany’s new laws in the meat and food industry


By Florence Schulz,

Jul 31, 2020  


translated by Sarah Lawton


Two new laws are to put an end to exploitation and poor working conditions in the German meat industry. But critics are concerned that these laws don’t go far enough. EURACTIV Germany reports.


It’s been a difficult start for the German government’s attempts to eliminate abuses in parts of the food industry.


The new regulation passed by the federal cabinet on Wednesday (29 July) to optimise food inspections, which is designed to ensure more monitoring in high-risk businesses, has been strongly criticised by consumer organisations.


Meanwhile, the health and safety at work law, which Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) also presented to the cabinet on Wednesday, is in danger of being taken ad absurdum.


The new law is intended to eliminate the exploitative working conditions in the meat industry, which contributed to hundreds of employees in German meat factories being infected with COVID-19.


Heil’s law proposes a ban on work contracts in companies in the meat industry as of January 2021 and for temporary work as of April 2021 with the exception of companies with fewer than 50 employees.


As it became known on Wednesday, Germany’s largest meat company Tönnies, whose factory was the site of a massive outbreak in late June, had reportedly tried to circumvent the looming change in the law by founding 15 subsidiaries with less than 50 employees.


In addition, there are regulations for new standards for the accommodation of employees. “Nobody should have to live in mouldy or overcrowded rooms,” Heil said.


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