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Danish municipality goes to police over haulage firm’s treatment of foreign workers

The municipality in Aabenraa near Denmark’s border with Germany is to file a complaint with police against haulage company Kurt Beier Transport, according to a report.

Danish municipality goes to police over haulage firm’s treatment of foreign workers
Photo: Frank Cilius/Ritzau Scanpix

Trade union media Fagbladet 3F wrote on Monday that Aabenraa Municipality plans to report the company over a living facility for employees at the company’s premises in the border town of Padborg.

The accommodation, referred to as a “driver’s camp”, housed up to 200 men in “criticisable” conditions with only four toilets between them, according to the report.

“We have decided to report Kurt Beier Transport to the police,” Aabenraa Municipality’s head of department for Building, Culture, Environment and Business Jane Petersen told Fagbladet 3F.

“The complaint was filed because, had Kurt Beier Transport applied for planning permission to build what we so far know to have been there, they would not have been granted permission,” Petersen added.

The municipality did not wish to go into further detail, according to 3F’s report. The report will be filed sometime during this week or next week, Petersen confirmed.

Kurt Beier Transport CEO Karsten Beier told broadcaster DR earlier this month that he regretted poor living conditions experienced by the company’s employees at the site.

“I very much regret the photos that have been published and would like to apologise. Our facilities were simply not up to standard,” Beier told DR.

The issue was first reported by Fagbladet 3F, which published photos showing evidence of poor conditions at the company’s accommodation in Padborg, while it was also reported that drivers from the Phillippines were paid as little as 15 kroner (two euros) per hour.

According to information supplied by the municipality to Fagbladet 3F, the company is permitted to provide facilities for drivers to rest and for short overnight stays at its Padborg depot, but not the “camp”-style accommodation demonstrated by the report.

The issue has also resulted in the National Board of Social Services (Socialstyrelsen)’s Anti-People Smuggling Centre finding that 26 drivers used by the company were victims of people smuggling.

Beier denied any laws had been broken in comments made last week to DR.

“I am completely sure and convinced that we have not done anything punishable by law. We have complied with all laws and regulations,” he said.

“All drivers were aware of the terms when we interviewed them in the Phillippines. None of them were forced into working for us,” he added.

South Jutland Police said on Wednesday last week that no arrests had been made in connection with the case, stressing that police and the Anti-People Smuggling Centre bases of investigation were not the same.

Police investigations are dependent on breach of Danish criminal law, while the Anti-People Smuggling Centre uses definitions of people smuggling from the UN’s Palermo protocols against trafficking of persons, adopted by Denmark in 2003.

READ ALSO: Danish transport firm admits to poor conditions for foreign drivers

WORKERS

Danish transport firm admits to poor conditions for foreign drivers

Haulage company Kurt Beier Transport has admitted poor treatment of its employees.

Danish transport firm admits to poor conditions for foreign drivers
Kurt Beier Transport's depot in Padborg. Frank Cilius/Ritzau Scanpix

The company’s CEO Karsten Beier told broadcaster DR on Tuesday that he regretted poor living conditions experienced by employees of the company in the town of Padborg near Denmark’s border with Germany.

“I very much regret the photos that have been published and would like to apologise. Our facilities were simply not up to standard,” Beier told DR.

The issue was first reported by trade union publication Fagbladet 3F.

Photos of the company’s accommodation in Padborg showed evidence of poor conditions, while it was also reported that drivers from the Phillippines were paid as little as 15 kroner (two euros) per hour.

Beier also said that his company had since action to redress the issues.

He denied any laws had been broken, meanwhile.

“I am completely sure and convinced that we have not done anything punishable by law. We have complied with all laws and regulations,” he said.

“All drivers were aware of the terms when we interviewed them in the Phillippines. None of them were forced into working for us,” he said to DR.

The haulage company has offered an improved contract, including higher wages, but that has been rejected by the drivers, according to DR’s report.

The CEO said to the broadcaster that wages paid by his company were in line with industry averages, given the drivers are employed in Poland, and that competition from other EU haulage companies meant it was not possible to offer further increases to drivers.

The company is subject to investigation by Danish authorities for people smuggling and has been criticised by politicians from several different parties.

READ ALSO: 'One in four' social healthcare workers in Denmark subjected to harassment: survey