Truck drivers from Uzbekistan and Georgia have been on strike for their rights for more than two months. An agreement has now been reached. However, this does not solve all the problems, as the DGB emphasizes.
After more than two months, the strike by Uzbek and Georgian truck drivers at the Gräfenhausen motorway service station in southern Hesse has ended.
An agreement has been reached, said Edwin Atema. The Dutch trade unionist had been appointed negotiator by the striking drivers.
The Polish forwarding company assured in writing that it would withdraw its claims against the drivers. According to Atema, he also assured that he would not raise any claims against the drivers in Germany or other countries in the future. The entrepreneur had filed a complaint with the Darmstadt public prosecutor’s office for extortion.
Atema further reported that money was flowing to the drivers. He initially said nothing about the height. A continuation of the strike therefore no longer makes sense, said Atema – also in view of the stressful situation for the drivers after weeks at the rest stop on Autobahn 5. The around 80 men had outstanding wages from their employer totaling more than half a million euros required. According to their own statements, they have not been paid for months.
In the meantime, drivers went on hunger strike
Around 30 drivers had now gone on hunger strike. Among other things, the Mainz social doctor Gerhard Trabert, who became known nationwide through his candidacy for the Left for the office of Federal President in 2022, provided medical help with a team from his Poverty and Health Association. He said at the end of September: “A hunger strike is a life-threatening situation.” Trabert spoke out in favor of medical contact points on European motorways.
“These drivers fought for their money,” emphasized negotiator Atema. Gräfenhausen was the “Waterloo” for the Polish shipping company, said Atema, referring to Napoleon’s defeat in the Battle of Waterloo.
DGB: Draw political consequences
The “desperate protest” of the Eastern European truck drivers has finally ended and a solution has been found, said Stefan Körzell, board member of the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB). Thanks to a large number of donations, the drivers can now be helped. “Now political consequences must finally be drawn from the incident in Gräfenhausen,” demanded Körzell – at the European, federal and state levels. The Polish authorities would have to revoke the group’s transport license forever. Negotiator Atema made similar comments. “Gräfenhausen is not an isolated case,” he told the German Press Agency. He hopes that a signal will come from there.
The DGB in the Hesse-Thuringia district said: “For the drivers, this marks the end of a courageous, long and desperate fight, which has once again shed a frightening light on the working conditions on Europe’s roads.” The drivers acted responsibly and in solidarity and defied all attempts at criminalization by the company.
In addition, they experienced broad solidarity and great support, especially from trade union and church actors, the DGB Hesse-Thuringia said. However, the solution found in this case does not eliminate the grievances in international road transport. “A continuation of exploitation on the streets of Europe can only be prevented if compliance with existing rules is consistently monitored.”
The rest stop on the A5 had been the scene of a labor dispute for the second time. In the spring, around 60 drivers from the same company pushed through their demands in a strike that lasted almost six weeks. The strike brought the working conditions of Eastern European long-distance drivers into focus. (dpa)
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