The meat coordinating committee reviewed draft leaflets for prospective migrant workers when they get hired by temporary work agencies. It is intended that the leaflets will be translated in relevant languages such as Romanian, Bulgarian and Polish.
The committee also discussed the proliferation of outsourcing, bogus self-employment and bogus subcontracting in the meat industry. The committee calls in particular for the legal protection of whistleblowers who report abuses to the authorities. The committee agreed that the EFFAT Secretariat would put up together a position paper on the linkage between food fraud, traceability issues and social fraud and make contact with interested MEPs.
The European Parliament rejected last week a European Commission proposal on the country of origin labeling for meat in processed foods on the basis that the proposal should establish stricter rules for traceability and consumer information. The MEPs call on the Commission to draw up a revised version including a mandatory place of birth, rearing and slaughter labeling, in line with the existing beef origin labeling legislation.
In particular, the European Parliament calls upon the European Commission to “take all necessary steps to make the an integral part of EU policy and to address structural prevention and combating of food fraud weaknesses within the overall food chain, in particular by increasing and strengthening monitoring”.
European Parliament resolution of 11 February 2015 on country of origin labelling for meat in processed food: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2015-0034+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN
This week, INTERPOL has issued a report in which thousands of tonnes of fake and sub-standard food and drink have been seized in 47 countries around the world. As part of a coordinated INTERPOL-Europol operation conducted during December 2014 and January 2015, to crack down on organized crime networks trafficking fake goods potentially harmful to the health of people, INTERPOL reports that more than 2,500 tonnes of counterfeit and illicit food, including mozzarella, strawberries, eggs, cooking oil and dried fruit have been seized. The report also says that an illegal slaughterhouse was shut down in Hungary.
“Record seizures of fake food and drink in INTERPOL-Europol operation”, 16 February 2015: http://www.interpol.int/News-and-media/News/2015/N2015-013
EFFAT observes that over the last decades, the complexity and cross-border character of the food chain in combination with the rapid changes in the labour market have contributed to increase the risk of fraud in different domains, not only food law but also labour and social law. EFFAT believes that food fraud and social fraud are highly linked to each other and extend in many cases beyond Member States’ borders.
The internal market has changed rapidly and has become more and more marked by increased flexibility and fragmentation. Flexible and cheap work, especially in the case of low-skilled workers, various forms of subcontracting and outsourcing have all become far more widespread. Bogus self-employment and bogus sub-contracting are also proliferating. One of the industries affected is the meat industry where unscrupulous practices have been reported.
Not only it is crucial that existing legislation on food control is properly applied and enforced, the controls and inspections against workers exploitation, social fraud and dumping must also be enhanced. Strengthened cooperation between Members States’ competent authorities when food fraud and social fraud are suspected or confirmed is necessary in the protection of workers and consumers alike.
With regard to the introduction of an overall minimum wage for the meat sector in Germany which formally entered into force on 1 August 2014, the colleague from the NGG explained that they are launching a campaign to ensure the application of the minimum wage and will be monitoring developments. The minimum wage will be gradually increased to EUR 8.75 by 1 December 2016. With the extension of the collective agreement in accordance with the Act on Posting of Workers (Arbeitnehmer-Entsendegetz) by the German authorities, the minimum wage applies to all workers in the meat processing industry, including those employed by sub-contractors and posted workers.
The next meeting of the meat coordinating committee should take place in September 2015.
List of participants