Negotiated with government and employers for financial support for employees in food, beverages and catering sector

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Peter Schmidt
Food, Beverages and Catering Union (NGG)

The Food, Beverages and Catering Union (NGG), for which I work, focusses on negotiating collective agreements, raising issues with government and representing and supporting our ​works councils and members in these specific situations.

Operating in the food sector meant that our work was classified as essential during the COVID-19 crisis. Because of this, the entire food industry had to process more orders than usual. Therefore, we had to make sure that our colleagues could operate under the right working conditions. Luckily, through successful cooperation with business owners, we managed to create an environment in which physical distancing was possible, except in the meat-processing industry.

The hospitality sector faced another issue: employees and owners were suffering massive financial losses. To combat this issue, we managed to mobilise short-time work compensation through intensive discussions with the government. We even managed to increase the amount of short-time work compensation, through close cooperation with several employers and some associations, further increasing support for employees.

Another initiative, strongly promoted by the media, was aimed specifically at the meat industry and its contract workers. In Germany, working conditions for contract workers in this sector are known to be poor, with workers being badly paid and enjoying no social benefits. Opening a dialogue with industry owners regarding the financial protection of workers proved to be difficult. Nevertheless, we managed to put pressure on both industry and lawmakers, drawing greater attention to these matters. This is a step in the right direction, but the fight must continue until these issues are reflected by a change in legislation.