Like quitting, only shittier. FLINK strikes again

It was foreseeable that the termination in which we supported our member Prince in November 2022 would not be the last. Once again, a FAU member is taking FLINK to court.

On Tuesday, February 28th, 2023 at 1 p.m. we will meet at the labor court in Dresden (Hans-Oster-Straße 4) to support our member Agya and we kindly invite you to join us.

Agya started as a rider at FLINK in 2021. He also knows about the grievances that we already wrote about. You can find his statement here.

After his vacation, Agya came to the union counseling with a letter which at first looked like an excerpt of the terms and conditions or a contract amendment.

The letter told him that his employment would end automatically. Why? Because according to his residence permit, his employment ends after 120 working days… However, FLINK does not mention with a single word that this restriction is not an absolute amount, but an annual maximum. Instead, they prefer to claim a alleged legal obligation, which they unfortunately have to comply with… yeah, really such a pity. However, they do not seem to be quite sure about the legal situation either, because to be on the safe side, they

“also terminate alternatively […] extraordinarily without prior notice, most alternatively ordinarily, extremely alternatively extraordinarily with observance of a social phase-out period […]”.

Have we thus plugged all legal loopholes, yeah? We don’t think so and as FAU Dresden we support our member Agya to sue for his rights and not to let FLINK get away with such lazy tricks. After all, we have already experienced quite a lot in the first lawsuit we brought against FLINK. FLINK preferred not to let any of this get out to the public and did not want to settle without a confidentiality agreement.

As soon as one gets in touch with this company, questions start to arise: How can such a large company keep firing people, as Agya also reports, without serious consequences following? Shouldn’t the courts notice that labor laws are being systematically violated here? Isn’t there any “three-strikes-and-you-are-out”-policy for labor law violations on the part of bosses and hub managers?

It’s the system, stupid

Unfortunately, no, and that is not likely to change anytime soon. German labor law is almost exclusively individual law, there are no class actions and fines or even criminal proceedings for labor law violations also only exist in really rare cases. And that’s exactly what FLINK seems to be very aware of and what plays into their hands. After all, how many non-German-speaking students or migrant workers, i.e. the people who make up a large part of FLINK’s workforce, have the time and energy to defend themselves against unjustified dismissals, or to recalculate their wages every month and then demand them – always with the fear that the management will get angry at some point? Yes, how many workers with a German passport would be able to do that and have the courage to do so, even without a language barrier?

The currently prevailing capitalist economic system, which tightens its belt even more in crisis mode, is based on the fact that discriminated groups are held down also in their jobs, receive poorer wages and less job protection, or, as in this case, are shifting mass for senseless start-ups inflated by venture capital. The FLINK system is fundamentally racist, even if there is a “convenience translation” of work documents here and there. But what’s also racist is that people are forced to take these bullshit jobs because other industries and companies are inaccessible, … not only because of the lack of a convenience translation. And racist is the regulation of the immigration authorities to allow foreign students to work only up to a maximum of 120 days, while denying access to social systems … not to mention other cases where work permits are withdrawn altogether, such as for people who need to live a certificate of suspension of deportation. Capitalist accumulation goes on blithely, could not function at all without it. And the German, more privileged workers and consumers all too often turn a blind eye.

And still, things start moving

Class action lawsuits would perhaps make it easier to fight back when injustice happens. For that, too, we need to join together, find each other, organize ourselves. Our goal is not merely to win a lawsuit against FLINK here and there, but to encourage people to talk to their colleagues at their workplaces and to build long-term exchange structures – workers groups. Because what really scares the bosses are workers who do not allow such massive personnel exchanges to take place at all.

The best example is FLINK. In Berlin, FLINK is currently trying to prevent the formation of a works council using the most absurd methods.1 In this matter, a court hearing was held at the Berlin labor court as recently as January 17, 2023, with the support of Aktion gegen Arbeitsunrecht (Action against Labor Injustice). The trial is not over yet, it will continue on March 14, 2023. We wish good luck to everyone involved!

So something is moving in the delivery industry. Organizing there has even already helped to change the extremely restrictive legal handling of strikes in Germany – and not because workers asked if they had the right, but because they just claimed it. In 2021, workers at the delivery service Gorillas went on strike. They didn’t give a damn about peace obligations outside of an officially introduced wage round or made only demands that could be regulated by collective agreements (stuff which is considered to “legalise” a strike in Germany). Instead, they paralyzed the company with blockades. In the ensuing court case, the legal view that such a thing was illegal was challenged for the first time in decades. This represents an important step toward liberalizing the right to strike in Germany, which the International Labour Organization (ILO) has long called for.

We often lack the courage and rebelliousness. Let’s unionize to change that!

  1. In general, we believe that works councils, with their commitment to faithful cooperation with the bosses and strong regulations, cannot replace strong and longlasting worker’s organization. But in the case of FLINK, the efforts make sense to keep workers for more than a few months within FLINK in the first place.

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