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?