Thursday, February 14, 2013

Freight and Logistics Giant Has Good and Bad Employment News

Deutsche Post DHL Offer Apprenticeships Whilst Global Unions Launch Street Protest Against Company's Employment Practices
Shipping News Feature

GERMANY – UK – WORLDWIDE – Deutsche Post DHL, one of the world’s largest employers with around 470,000 employees across the globe, has once again increased the number of apprenticeships it is offering in Germany this year. Meanwhile, two global union federations will aim to make workers’ rights fashionable at the opening of London Fashion Week tomorrow when they challenge event sponsor freight and logistics group DHL over its ongoing abuse of employees’ rights.

The mail and logistics firm will be offering a total of 2,160 apprenticeships and work-study positions across 22 vocational fields and 17 specialties. Since 2008, DHL has continually increased the number of its apprentice positions; in 2013 it will be offering nearly 600 more positions than five years ago. Angela Titzrath, Board Member for Personnel at Deutsche Post DHL said:

“Our most important resource for the future is qualified young people. This is why we invest in vocational training and, in doing so, set an example for the promotion and professional advancement of young people.”

Most positions at DHL are within its mail division, where this year 1,380 young people will have the opportunity to begin their training as courier, express and mail services specialists. In addition, DHL offers apprenticeships in the fields of engineering, freight forwarding, administration, real estate and warehouse logistics. The company’s work-study program, a combination of academic study and hands-on practical training, will be available for nearly 160 young people for the upcoming year.

As part of Deutsche Post DHL’s ‘Top Azubi’ program, highly promising apprentices and students can take advantage of a unique career development opportunity. Through targeted seminars and on-the-job training, ‘Top Azubi’ trainees can qualify for highly attractive jobs available at Deutsche Post DHL.

On home ground Deutsche Post DHL’s targeted approach to career development continuously achieves and two of the company’s apprentices recently received outstanding achievement awards from the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) in the category of courier, express and mail services. These two apprentices were part of a group of 200 young men and women who passed their exams with a mark of “very good”, making them the top performers on the winter 2011/12 and summer 2012 exams out of more than 350,000 participants.

The application process has already begun for the apprentice positions available in 2013. The training is generally conducted in or near the apprentice’s place of residence, for example in big cities, such as Frankfurt and Munich, but also in rural areas. Along with the relevant specialist knowledge and practical skills, apprentices at Deutsche Post DHL are expected to demonstrate personal and professional qualities such as initiative, curiosity, service orientation and dependability.

Outside Germany the view held and forcefully expressed by many workers representatives paints a very different picture. Our story last month gave a précis of the situation with links to a German TV video exposé and previous stories and now the International Transport Workers Union (ITF) and the UNI Global Union has arranged for two models dressed in high fashion clothes crafted out of packaging materials, and made up to match, to hold a very public protest.

The models will parade outside the main (Strand) entrance of Somerset House, London WC2R 1LA, the central venue for this year’s London Fashion Week (LFW), for which DHL is a major sponsor and its official logistics provider. The models, plus officials from the ITF and UNI will be there throughout the day from 09:15 onwards. Philip Jennings, UNI general secretary, said:

“DHL’s violations of international labour standards are well documented. DHL is ‘démodé’. It is out of step with the requirements of an ethical and sustainable fashion industry. UNI and ITF stand ready to work with DHL to help it turn the page and become a responsible supplier to the fashion industry.”

The ITF and UNI are fighting for DHL workers’ rights worldwide, and have in recent years presented evidence of repeated abuses in multiple countries where DHL operates. They have already been in touch with many exhibitors at LFW ahead of the event and report a positive response from those who are committed to the ethical sourcing and production of clothes, and who intend to contact DHL to quiz it on its behaviour. ITF acting general secretary Steve Cotton commented:

“London Fashion Week is the celebrity face of DHL, but there’s a much less glamorous side to the company, and that’s what we aim to expose and keep on exposing until they fix it by treating all their workers decently.”

Photo: Dressing DHL models in packing materials is nothing new. This is a detail from the 2010 DHL ‘Fashion Week’ calendar by Michael Michalsky.