Archives for March 2008

Lidl in the news

When I went shopping on Saturday I was very interested to see if my local Lidl would have the Stern magazine that appeared this week. Not because I wanted to buy it (I did that in my local newsagents), but being the main topic in this week’s edition, I was not so sure that they would.

As it turned out, they did have it in stock – and behind the tills was a statement printed on Lidl headed paper to answer the claims made in the magazine.

This week’s Stern and the statement from Lidl

Over the years I’ve some interesting (and sometimes unpleasant) reasons to get involved in employees’ rights. What Stern are claiming certainly beats almost everything I’ve experienced.

They report that detectives were installing miniature cameras in Lidl stores in Germany and then reporting back to the headquarters about what they had learnt. Actually, I find nothing wrong with cameras watching the tills as this could be for staff safety, but the problem I find is that the staff on the tills need to know that they are being filmed!

In this case, however, Stern reports that the detectives were not just interested in catching employees with their hand in the tills, but they were making notes about their private lives as well.

These were details such as:

– who could not go shopping until they received their wages
– how much did employees have left on their pre-paid mobile phones
– how store managers talked to their employees
– what employees did in their breaks

There are some things in the article that I can understand a detective being interested in, eg. who was working even though they were sick or on holiday; who avoided helping when there was heaving lifting to be done. But in my opinion these are things that the store manager should be dealing with. They don’t need a detective’s report to know these things.

As I said, Lidl has issued a statement about the article. They state that only 8% of their stores in Germany used such detectives last year. More importantly, they say that the detectives were meant to sort out thefts in these stores – last year Lidl lost 80 million Euros worth of stock! They did not want the detectives to make these additional notes about employees’ private lives.

They promise not to use detectives in future and to only use cameras that are clearly visible.

Problem solved? Well, maybe. This promise is certainly good news for the employees, but why did it have to go this far in the first place? Did it have to take a report by a national magazine to stop these practises?

Die Auferstehung

Die Auferstehung is the German word for the Resurrection – the event in the New Testament that is celebrated at Easter.

The term refers to the resurrection of Jesus three days after he was crucified and is the central theme in the Christian faith.

Indeed, it is quoted in the Glaubensbekenntnis (statement of faith) in Catholic Church services.

One of the relevant passages in the New Testament is Matthew 28:1-10, but the resurrection leads on to other events to be found in the Acts of the Apostles, such as appearing to two travellers on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).

It is a complex topic, which the podcast can only introduce at this stage. More detailed information can be found in Wikipedia: English | German.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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The Hartz IV menu

When I read this article in “Die Welt”, it made me think about food rationing during the Second World War in England, with everything planned down to the last ounce how much a person needed to live on every week.

Now a German politician has done the same sort of calculations for the long-term unemployed to show that the benefits they receive are sufficient to live on.

Germany had to have very good unemployment conditions – provided you were actually looking for work and had paid into the benefits scheme previously, then you could reckon with a certain amount of income.  These days, even if you have been paying into the scheme for all of your working life, you only receive two years of “normal” unemployment benefits – after that you are reliant on the “Hartz IV”.

Hartz IV has been calculated based on the minimum that a person needs to live on, and if you have savings above a certain amount then you will be expected to use these up first.

Anyway, back to the menu.  Here is how to live on 4EUR per day:

2 rolls
1 slice of cheese
1 apple
1 glass of fruit juice
2 cups of tea

1 Bratwurst with Sauerkraut and mashed potato

An evening meal is not mentioned in the article, but this should give some idea of the scope of the menu.  Apparently it has been calculated using current supermarket prices and effectively means 128EUR per Month.

I think the problem is that the calculation does not take into account the number of people living in a household.  Just being married with one child means that you can buy larger amounts of food without the waste that may occur if you are a single person, so in the end the amount you spend per person can work out less.

When I calculate the food budget for large events (eg. Scout camps) I work on 5EUR per person per day, because I know that with bulk buying (eg. for 20 people) that is the sort of amount that I will be spending – based on experience.

But is the same true for a single, unemployed person?  Is 138EUR per month enough to live on?

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