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Services: Ban on subcontractors in the parcel industry: coalition divided

Services: Ban on subcontractors in the parcel industry: coalition divided

Subcontractors in the parcel industry do not have a good reputation. Trade unionists report lousy working conditions, customs officers carry out raids. Now the call is getting louder for legal action.

The reform of the outdated postal law increases the pressure to limit or even completely prevent the controversial use of subcontractors. After the majority of the Federal Council voted in favor of a ban on parcel subcontractors who are not bound by collective agreements at the beginning of February, the Green Bundestag member and former Verdi boss Frank Bsirske has now reiterated his call for legal tightening to put a stop to the “exploitation” of parcel couriers to advance. He is in favor of a ban on the use of sub-subcontractors and sub-sub-subcontractors – i.e. a ban on passing on orders again to other companies.

Thousands of subcontractors now work for the large parcel service providers, often in unclear sub-sub-contractor chains, Bsirske told the German Press Agency. Employees – often from Eastern Europe – often have contracts with two companies, for example for loading and delivery.

There are often abuses such as 14-hour days for employees, dumping wages and sleeping in transport vehicles. The hundreds of medium-sized companies in the industry with correct working conditions would be left behind in the competition. Customs are also aware of the grievances. He keeps an eye on the industry every now and then, last fall with a nationwide raid by 3,100 officers. He uncovered some legal violations.

“Continuation of violation of the law threatens”

At the beginning of February, the Federal Council called for a ban on external personnel in sorting, loading and delivery and thus on work contracts and subcontractor chains. If the subcontractors are bound by collective agreements, they should still be allowed to work.

The federal government sees it differently than the state chamber. From the government’s point of view, the planned reviews of companies are sufficient, as can be seen from a response from the government to the state demands. The Green Bsirske objected: The authorities could hardly control the mobile workers in the confusing industry. “There is a risk of a continuation of the systematic violation of the law,” he warned. Therefore, only one subcontractor should be allowed and not chains of subcontractors.

This view is also represented by SPD member of the Bundestag Sebastian Roloff. He would even generally ban subcontractors in the industry. However, the subcontractor chains in particular are a thorn in his side – eliminating them is his priority.

FDP warns of “poison for competition”

The coalition partner FDP contradicts the red-green stance. “A ban on subcontractors would be poison for competition in the parcel industry,” said liberal Reinhard Houben. DHL’s competitors in particular rely on the use of these companies.

In addition, the FDP member of the Bundestag considers the assumption to be “simply wrong” “that working conditions in the parcel market are poor across the board and that occupational safety standards are structurally undermined.” Black sheep would have to be effectively sorted out. “This is regulated by the amendment to the law with the strict requirements that companies must meet in order to be able to register as a provider of postal services.” The use of sub-subcontractors also makes sense in certain cases. Therefore, subcontractor liability in the parcel industry was introduced in the Parcel Carrier Protection Act in 2019.

The Biek parcel association, which speaks for the competition from the market leader DHL, considers contractual partnerships to be “indispensable for the parcel industry”. “The entrepreneurial creativity of thousands of contractual partners contributes to the creation of jobs and the industry makes a decisive contribution to society with its added value,” says a statement from Biek.

Market leader DHL, which only has around two percent of its parcel volume transported by subcontractors, is in favor of a ban on sub-subcontractors. According to its own statement, the Bonn-based company has not concluded such contract structures.

Bundestag debate in the evening

On Wednesday evening there was a debate in the Bundestag plenary on the legal reform, which should be completed by spring. Citizens will soon notice some changes: Deutsche Post will be given more time to deliver letters in order to be able to reduce its costs. This central part of the reform is more or less undisputed. In view of advancing digitalization, it is no longer so important that letters arrive as quickly as possible, but rather that they reach the sender reliably – this assumption is largely agreed upon in politics.

Source: Stern

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