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Wage cheating uncovered: Duisburg customs initiated 114 proceedings against companies

The main customs office in Duisburg, which is also responsible for Oberhausen, initiated 114 proceedings against companies last year because wages were below the minimum wage, not paid at all or paid too late. The officials imposed fines of around 153,000 euros. This is reported by the IG Bauen-Agrar-Umwelt (IG BAU). The union relies on a survey by the Federal Ministry of Finance for the member of the Bundestag Bernhard Daldrup (SPD), who is also a member of the finance committee of the parliament. Accordingly, 31 administrative offense proceedings were attributable to construction companies in the region, against which fines of 17,400 euros were imposed.

“The figures show that many employers are not very particular about the payment of their employees. Customs should therefore be even more present in Oberhausen. The risk of black sheep being caught during an inspection is still too low,” says Peter Köster. The IG BAU district chairman points out that the work that comes to the customs unit of the financial control undeclared work (FKS) is increasing.
Because with the planned increase in the statutory minimum wage to 12 euros per hour from October, the incomes of thousands of people in Oberhausen alone increased. “The state then has to ensure that employees actually get the higher minimum wage. The important and overdue increase in the lower wage base must not only apply on paper,” said the chairman of IG BAU Mülheim-Essen-Oberhausen.

The trade unionist warns against mere “placebo controls” if the main customs office in Duisburg does not significantly expand the employer checks. “It is crucial that the FKS gets additional staff. The Federal Ministry of Finance, as the supreme employer of the customs administration, has to take care of new inspectors at high pressure.”

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IG BAU also criticizes a “state confusion of responsibilities”. For example, the occupational safety authorities have an eye on compliance with safety regulations and standards for accommodation for foreign employees. However, there is also a lack of staff in the offices – although they were given additional tasks during the pandemic, such as checking the corona regulations in the workplace. The FKS of customs, on the other hand, takes care of checking payroll or tax statements. “In practice, a state labor inspection from a single source would make more sense. As a higher authority, it could ensure compliance with employee rights and social regulations,” says Köster.

According to the Federal Ministry of Finance, the main customs office in Duisburg checked a total of 1,163 companies in the region last year – 283 of them from the construction industry. In addition to wage tricks, the investigators focused in particular on undeclared work, illegal employment and tax fraud: the Duisburg customs officers initiated a total of 3,706 criminal proceedings here.

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