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Germany – Staffing firm denies claims in Amazon “temp scandal”

20 February 2013

One of Europe’s largest staffing companies involved in the high-profile “temp scandal” at Amazon has denied all accusations of being responsible for the poor working conditions of agency workers who the firm supplied to the online retailer.

In a statement to Staffing Industry Analysts, the Austria-based recruiter Trenkwalder said the agency workers were at no disadvantage in terms of the pay they received. “All employees that have been provided to Amazon through Trenkwalder have been paid with the statutory official wages at least,” the statement read.

A report by German broadcaster ARD last week showed how seasonal agency workers, mainly from Eastern Europe and Spain, were harassed by security guards while working at Amazon last Christmas. The temporary workers also lived in poor housing conditions and had to put up with bad transport links to work. Trenkwalder said it had nothing to do with providing these services.

This comes after the German labour minister, Ursula von der Leyen, threatened to revoke the operating licenses of staffing firms involved in the case. The labour ministry also announced that it had conducted a special audit into Trenkwalder, which, the firm claimed in the statement, found no irregularities.

The company also said that “the assessment through the “Bundesagentur für Arbeit” [German federal employment agency] has not confirmed any of the reproaches raised against Trenkwalder.” The federal agency has denied these points and still accuses the firm of breaching certain regulations.

Speaking about the agency workers the firm supplied to Amazon, the company said: “Trenkwalder has – with the provision of approximately 1,000 employees – only covered a small part of the needs of Amazon when it comes to the covering of order peaks during their Christmas business in 2012.

“Out of the approximately 1,000 employees from Trenkwalder, at around 60 from Spain and Sweden have been recruited by the “Bundesagentur für Arbeit” directly in their home countries. Due to administrative reasons Trenkwalder has been asked by Amazon to employ those employees and then provide them to Amazon. Hence, there has been no disadvantage for the employees in terms of their net salary.”

Trenkwalder is among the ten-largest staffing firms in Europe, according to a ranking by Staffing Industry Analysts. The firm was recently crowned Austria’s best recruiter, following the ‘Career’s Best Recruiters’ study. 

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