Meat Sector: European Trade Unions Rally Behind German Law

Apr 16, 2024 | Food, In the spotlight

A United Call on the EU for Improved Conditions for Meat Workers across the Continent

Berlin, 16 April 2024 – At a conference in Berlin, The European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT) successfully concluded the EU-wide project #MeatTheStandards aimed at improving working conditions in the European meat industry. Taking inspiration from the Occupational Safety and Control Act, which significantly improved working conditions in the German meat industry, EFFAT and its affiliates urge the upcoming EU institutions to assume European responsibility and elevate labour standards in a sector plagued by substandard conditions, wage undercutting, and exploitation.

Ahead of the next EU elections, EFFAT is urging the new European Commission and the incoming European Parliament to safeguard workers from exploitation at the EU level by enacting a binding initiative that regulates subcontracting, addresses abusive intermediaries, and strengthens workplace inspections.

The 2-year project, which brought together affiliates from across Europe, has yielded significant results enhancing cooperation, raising awareness, and advocating for better labour standards. Their collective efforts have led to tangible outcomes, including:

  • Awareness Raising: The project shed light on the pervasive nature of issues within the European meat industry, emphasizing the need for concerted action at the European level.
  • Belgian Collective Bargaining Agreement on Social Fraud: A significant milestone was the development of the Belgian Collective Bargaining Agreement addressing social fraud in the meat sector, underscoring the importance of regulatory measures in safeguarding workers’ rights.
  • Organizing Efforts in Poland: Successful organizing initiatives were undertaken in Poland, aimed at empowering workers and improving their working conditions.
  • Exchange with Member Organisations in Romania: Meaningful exchanges were facilitated with member organisations in Romania, fostering cross-border collaboration and knowledge sharing.
  • European Works Council (EWC) Work: EFFAT engaged and coordinated the establishment of a European Works Council (EWC) in LDC, advocating for the rights and interests of workers at the multinational level.

Leveraging the outcomes of the EU project, Kristjan Bragason, EFFAT General Secretary, highlighted the significance of these achievements in advancing the rights and well-being of meat industry workers across Europe saying: The working conditions in the meat sector have stained the European labour market. Regardless of its profitability, a sector cannot truly thrive if built on exploitation and social dumping.

Guido Zeitler, NGG chairman, took part in the conference and said: It took many years of fighting the exploitative structures of the German meat industry, before outsourcing and subcontracts were finally banned by law. This was a milestone, which we now want to achieve together for Europe. But we also want to make further improvements. Dubious former subcontractors are still up to mischief as recruitment agencies, transporters, and accommodation providers. We urgently need more regulation and stricter controls here – in Germany and Europe.

EFFAT’s demand for better working conditions through subcontracting chains is included in #CallingEU, a larger EU elections manifesto calling for a new EU mandate committed to delivering a fairer Europe for workers.

Ends –

Media Contacts:

Maddalena Colombi: +32 488 3374 09
EFFAT Communications Officer

Jonas Bohl: +49 151 17480844
NGG Press Officer


EFFAT | EFFAT is the European Federation of Food, Agriculture, and Tourism Trade Unions, also representing domestic workers. As a European Trade Union Federation representing 116 national trade unions from 37 European countries, EFFAT defends the interests of more than 25 million workers towards the European Institutions, European employers’ associations, and transnational companies. EFFAT is a member of the ETUC and the European regional organisation of the IUF.

#MeatTheStandards is a project of the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT) aimed at improving working conditions in the European meat industry.








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