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Shareholders demand DHL solves labour rights problems

Trade unions and major shareholders of Deutsche Post DHL called on its board of executives to solve labour rights problems at DHL subsidiaries during the company’s AGM in Frankfurt yesterday.

During the meeting CEO Frank Appel admitted that lie detectors had been used to quiz DHL employees in some countries where it operates, but he refused to make concessions, promising only to comply with international labour standards and not rule out contact with trade unions. He claimed that an international framework agreement which would guarantee minimum standards for working conditions for all 400,000 DHL workers – as requested by the global union federations UNI global union and the ITF – would not be necessary.

Ingo Marowsky, ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation organising globally coordinator, responded with disappointment: "DHL’s problems won’t go away, and nor will we until we have an agreement that guarantees its workers their basic rights", he said.

Earlier he told shareholders at the AGM: "We’ve been talking about the problems for three years. Now it is time to deliver."

Last year the ITF and UNI reported on a number of violations of national and international labour law at DHL subsidiaries on all continents. Yesterday, in front of the DHL AGM venue company workers from different countries rallied to demand their right to union organisation, which they alleged is being suppressed at various of the company’s subsidiaries.

A year ago Frank Appel promised UNI and the ITF that he would prohibit the use of lie detectors, which are known to cause serious psychological damage to some of those interrogated. However, this time he attempted to justify their use, claiming this would be "in strictly defined exceptional cases".

"Perhaps Mr Appel should be the one on the lie detector, especially when answering UNI global union’s questions at AGMs," said Neil Anderson, head of post and logistics at UNI global union. "Can we believe what he tells us as shareholders?"

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