The Tears of an Employee Imprisoned by the Fear of an Employer

Bob Nelson once said, “Employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his/her manager (employer)”.

An employee always goes through emotional traumas at a workplace where management only places organizational emphasis on making profit at the expense of their employee’s wellbeing – safety, happiness, etc.

I can say without the fear of contradictions that the aforementioned picture is vividly painted on the walls of the Flink Expansion 31 GmbH, Germany. As a rider for Flink for over one and a half years on a part time contract as a student, my safety was nearly overlooked always by management. From poor working gears (especially during the extreme weather conditions such as the snowy winter seasons) through poor communication feedbacks from management when employee sort for clarification/work assistance.

One of the greatest traumas each employee at Flink goes through or is going through is the fear of termination of employment contract at any time. This fear has grown to the extent that, everyone is afraid to report of any accident to management in the course of exercising their work/duties. For instance, a rider was fired right after he was involved in an accident upon delivering an item to a customer. There was no reason for his contract termination despite this rider working with Flink for over one year. But hey, they had it wrong this time. Little did they know there was someone who would not condone and connive with such attitudes: the FAU, Dresden.

With the assistance and guidance from FAU, this rider won his case through the court negotiation. There are a lot of similar cases that happened and is happening at Flink but the unfortunate part is that most of the affected individuals are foreign students who barely know and understand the German labour law. “I am a student, I came for studies, I cannot go through the stress of challenging them (Flink) and I do not have the resources in doing that” are the chorus of the masses of the Flink employees who were and are going through such unfortunate experiences. Or maybe, Flink has realized this – that majority of the people the employees cannot stand up to them (for their labor right). But one funny aspect of it is that, they (Flink) keep on hiring/recruiting new riders every day! Firing everyday (especially those in their probation periods) and hiring at the same time makes me believe that Flink is doing this on a purpose. Probably Flink is trying to avoid their responsibilities to these employees in terms of granting them their basic rights like annual leave benefits.

Now let me give you my story. I joined Flink as a rider from 01.09.2021. As a rider, I contributed to the growth of the company by delivering orders to our customers on time – initially within 10 minutes! Yes, within 10 minutes irrespective of the distance between the hub and the address of the customer. As a rider you had to fly if the need be, because a minute late after the 10 minutes, you are considered as not fit for the job. They did this forgetting that we the riders equally plied the road with other vehicles and that the least mistake we did could result into losing our lives. But hey, they careless. They changed the 10 minute delivery policy not because of the riders’ complaints, but because legally, they could have been taken on by the customers for breaking their 10 minutes promise. It was impossible to deliver an order to an address in about 5km within 10 minutes.

Funny enough, as a rider, you would have to travel this long distance with a backpack of load weighing sometimes up to 20 kg. For this, there was always a misunderstanding between the riders and the shift leads. You could not complain of a heavy load as a rider. Of all these challenges, some of us stood by the company and contributed to its success stories.

As a part time employee, I was to work 20 hours a week. However, there were countless instances I received no shift for weeks, yet, I was not paid for that because according to them (Flink) I did not work. But did I say I would not work? Or was I assigned shift and did not show up? What wrong did I do to deserve this, because the contract clearly states of 20 hour weekly shift? How did they (Flink) expect us to pay our bills as students?

But this was just the genesis of the occupational oppression to experience. Those who challenged the hub manager were eliminated sooner. Mass irregular termination of employment contract followed. Each day, we woke up to work in panic: panic of terminating our employment contract. With this, complaining about one’s right at the workplace begun to varnish like a naphthalene ball exposed to the air.

To begin my execution, they (Flink management) first told me in August, 2022 that, since my resident permit was ending on 30.09.2022, they were going to terminate my employment contract with them. I showed them my appointment for a renewal of resident permit from the Immigrations Office Dresden. On 22nd September, 2022, I received my new resident card and uploaded it on the Flink employee portal as an evidence of right to stay and to continue my work in Germany. In the middle of October, 2022, I was told again by Flink I had worked for 120 days and as per the German law, a student could work only up to that hours. A new strategy: perhaps because their first plan did not work.

I least expected them to terminate my contract completely in November, 2022 on the grounds of working 120 days in 2022. I did not understand this was because per our contract, both parties knew I am a student. Yes, the law says I could work only 120 days in the year. My question was, could Flink, as employer did not know of this? This while as I was working for the company’s growth, did they not realize my days were numbered? In the first place, why did they not tell us that they were employing us for only the said 120 days in the year but rather made an indefinite employment contract terms with us? Could I not have been asked to resume work the following year (2023) if I had exhausted all my work hours for the year 2022? The termination letter I was given was dated 02.12.2022.

Prior to the termination of my employment contract, I had requested for my 2022 annual leave and I was granted this beginning 28.11.2022. However, on 18.11.2022, Flink cancelled and deleted this evidence of granting me the annual leave from their portal where I could have access. According to their termination letter dated 02.02.2022, my contract was terminated on the 10.11.2022 but that was not true. Between 14.11.2022 and 19.11.2022, I was assigned 20 hour shift which I worked. My last shift in that week was on the 18.11.2022 which I worked 8 hours that day. After trying severally to log out after my shift that day, and I was denied access, I contacted out hub manager to solve this. I was told it could have been a system malfunction so she logged me out manually and confirmed my 8 hour working hours for that day. Although I tried several times to seek for explanation to why I could not login again on the platform to view my shift for the week after, but I never received any feedback. I wrote to the main employee enquiry desk of Flink, but received no response.

Because I had requested for my vacation and it was granted, I had also arranged to travel. I travelled out of Germany on 01.12.2022, only to return to find letter of termination of employment contract from Flink which was dated 02.12.2022; a day after I had left Germany. The reason for my termination was short, and that, I had worked 120 days in 2022 so they could not work with me again – not to say I could resume work after 2022 despite having indefinite employment contract with Flink.

So this is how my story with Flink ended. Whether or not it ended on a good note, I am home now. I wake up each morning, thinking of how I worked so hard in sunny and rainy times to the realization of Flink’s objectives. Our tears were never shown, for they were imprisoned by the fear of our employer; Flink.

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