Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Postal and Home Freight Delivery Group Having a Bad Month

This Time Labour Problems at Home for DHL While ex-Boss Disgraces Himself
Shipping News Feature

GERMANY – WORLDWIDE – As with our previous City Link story, this is not a good month for Deutsche Post DHL which, having endured years of criticism over its employment practices outside the Mother country, it now appears the DHL home delivery side of the business has been threatened this week with strike action by the Ver.di union which has over 1,500 members working at the company. The news also comes at a time when a former boss, and close confidant of the Deutsche Post ex-Chairman and CEO (who himself was convicted on tax fraud charges in 2009), has admitted blackmailing a politician.

Additionally a recent press release by DP DHL calling in its employees to ‘act on their social responsibility’ was met with ridicule in some quarters. The company has been accused of mistreatment of its workers in several countries around the world, particularly with regard to union membership, a dispute which has festered despite CEO Frank Appel’s year old assurances that matters were under investigation. Now it seems one of the unions involved in those disputes, Ver.di, is threatening to ask its members to take strike action over pay rates within Germany itself.

DHL Home Delivery was hit hard by the failure some months ago of the Neckermann mail order business, another firm which suffered from poor relations between staff and management, and the loss of trade apparently caused DHL management to initiate a restructuring of the company. Wage negotiations now appear to have failed, with the union saying that its members’ patience is now exhausted.

The company apparently offered a one-off payment whilst the union is looking for an overall percentage rise for its members with a spokesperson reportedly describing the current offer as ‘provocation’ following this, the third round of talks on the matter.

In the slightly more sensational news, despite having left over two years ago the man who has admitted to blackmail, Hermann Ude, has a name inevitably still being associated with DHL and, somewhat ironically, the former Deutsche Post board member says his motive for the offence was a sense of disgust at the way the politician, the SPD candidate for Chancellor Peer Steinbrück, had treated an immigrant maid in the 1990’s. Rather than publicise the case, almost twenty years later he apparently decided to write to Steinbrück threatening to expose him if he did not withdraw from the forthcoming election.

Ude had a strong relationship with the ex-boss of Deutsche Post AG and regular Bilderberg attendee Klaus Zumwinkel who was convicted, sentenced to two years parole and fined €1 million for tax evasion upon evidence produced to German authorities after it had been stolen from a Swiss bank. There were suspicions that considerably more than the €1 million Zumwinkel was accused of concealing was involved, but Germany’s statute of limitations meant this investigation was time barred. Steinbrück has campaigned vigorously for further prosecutions of German tax evaders, particularly high profile figures who maintain Swiss bank accounts, apparently a habit so popular in the country that some commentators have called it ‘the rich man’s sport’.

Appel took over the position of CEO from Zumwinkel in February 2008 but it was rumoured there was friction between him and Ude who officially left the company on the 31st March 2011, something alluded to in the official company statement made in March of that year.