Established since 1988 in France, the German brand Lidl has been voted for five consecutive years as the best chain of stores. This large supermarket attracts a large number of customers every day, regularly innovating to make life easier for consumers, as when they launched their range of breads and pastries with immediate cooking.

The strategy of this brand is based on management “American style” with empowered employees. However, behind this strategy and ultra-competitive prices hides a shocking reality.

The Lidl brand is plagued by controversy and controversy, particularly about the working conditions of employees. In an effort to further reduce costs, the management of the company is described as tough. In March 2008, a German weekly revealed that Lidl was spying on his employees with private detectives, illegal surveillance camera recordings and audio tracks. Then in 2014, Lidl had been forced by the Labor Court of Nancy to pay damages of 15,000 euros for wrongful dismissal of an employee.

But lately, the international solidarity associations ActionAid France, Peuples Solidaires and Oxfam Germany, have published a report denouncing the working conditions in the plantations “Matias” in Ecuador and “Finca Once” in Costa Rica, which are the direct suppliers of bananas and pineapple large areas Lidl.

Dangerous and unacceptable working conditions
In a press release issued in July last year, the French Non Governmental Organization (NGO) urged the awareness and defense of producers completely helpless against the giants of distribution. Directly accusing the sign Lidl, the press release refers to the survey on the conditions under which the fruits are harvested and then bought.

In fact, European brands are negatively and dangerously influencing the living conditions of foreign producers in order to reduce their costs as much as possible.

On both plantations, we discover an intensive use of pesticides, moreover the employees work during the aerial application of these chemical substances. This is totally contrary to the recommendations of the Ecuadorian State. Called “highly dangerous” and banned by the European Union, these toxic products are for agricultural workers but also for nearby residents. The result is therefore appealing for the health of these poor people who are now suffering from cancer, respiratory diseases, miscarriages for women. The workers even talk about stocking.

Silent union demands
Non-existent contracts, unfair dismissals … Here is what plantation workers have the right to, they do not have access to their most basic rights and can be dismissed for any reason. A woman can be fired because she is pregnant. Moreover, with verbal contracts, these employees are not socially covered.

These workers wanted to create a union, but suffered repression from harassment to dismissal for daring to ask for better working conditions. One of the union workers, Isidrio Ochoa, says that in the summer of 2014, he and his colleagues created a union because of their miserable working conditions. As a result of the union’s creation, they were all fired. Isidrio has even received threats from his former employer. This worker had to hide for a long time to finally file a complaint to the prosecutor’s office, however this complaint has remained unresolved to date.

Lastly, in May 2017, the petition “Lidl: who really pays the price of good things? “In favor of better working conditions in the plantations that supply the Lidl stores, has collected more than 60,000 signatures.

For these agricultural workers to finally work in decent conditions and out of poverty, a real awareness is needed. It is therefore up to each of us to consume intelligently.

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