Germany: Lawyer speaks of 'mistakes' in pay slips of asparagus farm workers

Lawyer Stefan Huebner spoke of several «mistakes» made in the pay slips of Romanian asparagus workers at Spargelhof Ritter, who are currently on strike. The comments were made during a press conference held in Bornheim, near Bonn, on Friday. Members of the Free Workers' Union (FAU) attended the press conference alongside the harvest workers. Signs reading «German asparagus tastes like... Еще exploitation» and «Solidarity is our weapon» could be seen. «We received [pay slips] the day before yesterday, and of course, Mr. Klinke [lawyer advising workers] and I had a look at them yesterday, and we saw that there were definitely mistakes. Mistakes about people who had been paid amounts which were fractions of what they were entitled to,» said Huebner. The lawyer specified that deductions were made for accommodation and catering. «Of course the question arises, what can I bill? Here, too, we looked into the contracts and could at least see that what is in the rental contract is not billed, but is simply 50 percent higher. So there have been either mistakes made, on the side of work provider, which we we are now assuming, but here, of course, we also need a clarification,» added Huebner. «We always have to think about labour law as an employee protection law for employees from Germany and of course also from Romania who work here. And these are many points that have not been observed,» he concluded. The workers, predominantly from Romania, decried the lack of hygiene and cramped living accommodation, which is reportedly located next to a railway line and sewage treatment plant. They also accused the insolvency administrator running the Spargelhof Ritter farming business of withholding their wages. The Bonn general gazette has reported that around 240 harvest helpers have been accommodated in cramped conditions — sometimes four or five in one room.

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