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Germany – Major supermarkets raided over “illegal” pay of temporary workers

25 January 2012

Large-scale raids took place yesterday in major supermarket chains Kaufland und Netto as it has been alleged the firms underpaid their agency workers. More than 450 tax and customs officers raided the companies’ business premises in four federal states, including Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, and North Rhine-Westphalia.

The companies are accused of underpaying some agency workers employed as warehouse workers and truck drivers to avoid paying for social security contributions, claimed the main customs office in Schweinfurt. According to investigators, agency workers were paid about 30% less than the legal framework requests.

The officers have secured evidence but are not yet able to estimate the sum that has been evaded by not paying the social security tax.

The supermarket chain Kaufland meanwhile confirmed that raids had taken place on their logistics sites and added that it was "cooperatively working together" with the customs office, supporting it "extensively".

Commenting on the allegations, the company said "Our logistics department works with several certified service providers. This cooperation is based on compliance with all given laws. The staff of the service providers we collaborate with are bound by this fixed contractual relationship”.

Netto, the other supermarket hit by these allegations, confirmed that the main customs office regularly carries out inspections. Netto said it continues to support the customs office and will hand over all requested documents. The press office stated that there were no objections to this at all as past investigations had not revealed anything suspicious.

Netto and Kaufland are some of Germany’s biggest supermarket chains with a wide national presence. 

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