BERLIN (Reuters)-Police searched more than 40 houses and businesses in five German states earlier Wednesday as part of an investigation into foreign workers being illegally brought to the country for use in the meat packaging industry.
A Federal Police spokesperson said that the police wanted to question more than 80 foreign workers, most of them from non-EU and Eastern European countries including Ukraine and Belarus.
Since the beginning of this year, the German meat packaging industry has come under fire for the widespread use of subcontracted migrant workers in Eastern Europe. The reason is that cramped residences and poor supervision have caused the coronavirus outbreak.
In response, the German cabinet passed a new law in July that forced meat packers to hire employees directly in industrial slaughterhouses instead of subcontracting.
The spokesperson said that the center of the investigation was IRC and Berkana, two companies suspected of illegally bringing workers to Germany to work in meat packaging with forged documents, and 1
During the raid, the police seized 1.5 million euros (US$1.75 million) in cash and other valuables. They estimated that the money was made illegally by the company only passing part of the money paid by the meat packer for the service to the workers. Taken.
A police spokesman said: “We have a minimum wage in Germany, but we must assume that foreign workers don’t necessarily know this, and their income is much less.”
Poland’s IRC Czuprynscy stated that it is impossible for the company to bring anyone forged documents to Germany, and declined to comment further. Berkana did not immediately comment.
The raid was concentrated in the town of Weissenfels in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, where Toennies, Germany’s largest meat packaging and exporter, has a factory.
A Toennies spokesperson said that none of the company’s offices or factories had been raided, but he confirmed that Berkana was one of its subcontractors.
(1 USD = 0.8565 Euro)
Additional reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Michelle Martin and Barbara Lewis