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the LIDL supermarket spy story

category international | worker & community struggles and protests | news report author Thursday March 27, 2008 15:18author by shapeshifting reptile Report this post to the editors

The German magazine "Stern" published a report on the supermarket LIDL in the last week which alledged the corporation had been spying on its employees. The story is now being taken up across Europe, where indeed workers shop in & work for the LIDL chain. The allegations are being supported daily by more and more evidence as can be seen by perusing the original articles at "Stern" complete with photos, a vid, extracts from internal memos, et cetera, so long & so forth.

Included in the internal memos were suggestions that menstruating women employees wear a coloured headband so managers could allow them extra "toilet time", time which would be denied male or non-menstruating employees. It gets worse.., "tattoos"........."wants higher wages"........"junkie friends".........
CCTV guards against theft, pilfering and un-scheduled menstruation at LIDL.
CCTV guards against theft, pilfering and un-scheduled menstruation at LIDL.

"........
According to a report by the German weekly magazine Stern, Lidl has been spying for months on employees in several of its outlets. The company has allegedly been hiring detectives to investigate workers, both on the job, on cigarette and coffee breaks -- and even on the toilet. The explosive report triggered a government probe into the allegations on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry of the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg described the claims as "unparalleled," telling SPIEGEL ONLINE: "The supervisory authority has launched an investigation into possible violations of privacy protection rules." The ministry has jurisdiction because Lidl's corporate headquarters are located in the city of Neckarsulm in that state. The spokesperson said investigations could take several weeks and wanted to make no predictions about their possible outcome or consequences. The bulk of the reports cited by Stern come from Lidl outlets in the state of Lower Saxony, plus individual ones from the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Berlin and Schleswig-Holstein. The observation practices were routine, the report alleges: A detective would install between five and 10 miniature cameras in the store, telling the manager it was an anti-theft measure, and then use the technology to observe employees' behaviour. Stern claims to have obtained hundreds of pages of transcripts that document the movements and conversations of employees, for example: "Wednesday, 4:45 p.m.: Although Ms. N. has not accomplished much in the food and reduced wares department, she takes her break right on time. She sits together with Ms. L.; they talk about their wages, bonuses and paid overtime. Ms. N. hopes that her pay has been transferred already because she desperately needs money for this evening (reason = ?)". The transcripts also get into employees' private lives ("Her circle of friends consists mainly of junkies") and appearances ("Ms. M. has tattoos on both lower arms"). In their tone and detail, the observation logs invite comparison to those of the Stasi, the East German secret police......


English translation pages on Spiegel :-
http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,543....html

German pages from "Stern", basically the whole thing is there. http://www.stern.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/unternehmen/...?vs=1

Vid - coverup - denial from LIDL boss - reams of extracts from internal memos & comparison to the Stassi. So far LIDL denying the stories are only admitting secret cameras in locations in Germany & the Czech republic. But "Stern" really has got its teeth into this & today the story is all over Europe in every language. Surveillance of workers as well as honesty test & the utterly appalling invasion of intimacy which monitoring the menstrual cycle of workers means is an affront to our collective rights & an insult to our class which is just too cheap to bear .

I'd suggest an immediate boycott or campaign of actions against LIDL stores.

pick-up in other press :

English language original -

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/27/germany.sup...rkets
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/arti...0.ece
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7316169.stm
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/20...7.xml

English language translation -

http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,543....html

Spanish language
http://www.elpais.com/articulo/sociedad/supermercados/L...4/Tes
http://www.lavanguardia.es/lv24h/20080326/53448511628.html

LIDL ireland :-
http://www.lidl.ie/ie/home.nsf/pages/ls.index

Stern :-
http://www.stern.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/unternehmen/...?vs=1

This week's "Stern" - the LIDL STASSI story. a must buy for workers.
This week's "Stern" - the LIDL STASSI story. a must buy for workers.

author by ecpublication date Thu Mar 27, 2008 15:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

No-one would give me a quote over the phone. The question I asked was

'Does Lidl in Ireland use cctv to spy on its employees during their breaks? Has it done so in the past?'

First person said 'I'll have to get your details' and then went off the line without getting them and the line went dead a minute or two later.

Second attempt different person.

Asked question. Again

'I'll have to take your details' and gone for 3 minutes.

Came back saying that 'a press release has been issued but the Managing director has to sign it?'

I ask -'Is it on the internet anywhere?'.

'No'.

'Is it written yet?'

'It's being written now.'

'Because I called?'

' MMMM No. I have your details so someone will be in touch'.

'You haven't taken my details.'

'Oh. Yes'

and I gave them an e-mail address.

Off to the local store now with several printouts of this for the workers with a phone number on it in case they want to rat on their bosses or search for funny cameras.

Totally disgusting and just the type of stunt that you can imagine being inflicted on immigrants in this here country full of honest upright types as it is.

Their freefone is: 1800 347447
head office is 045 440400

author by ecpublication date Thu Mar 27, 2008 16:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

27 March 2008
Issued on behalf of Lidl Ireland GmbH

Lidl Ireland does not engage in any covert observation

Lidl Ireland wants to stress that openness and fairness are an integral element of our staff relations. All internal security measures are open, visible and with full staff knowledge and involvement.

All CCTV systems are of a non-covert nature and have been installed on advice and in cooperation with An Garda Síochána. Their purpose is to maximise safety and security for our staff and customers.

There are no covert observations carried out in relation to our staff in our stores.

Related Link: http://smarts.co.uk/
author by Sharon. - Individualpublication date Thu Mar 27, 2008 16:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

....and not geographically observant either .

No doubt LIDL management and/or their legal people will be all over this thread , if they aren't already ; with that in mind - and apologises for diverting from the main topic - I bring this little beauty to the attention of said management and potential/existing LIDL shoppers :

http://11sixtynine.blogsome.com/2007/04/29/lidl-and-geo...aphy/

Thanks !

Sharon.

Related Link: http://1169andcounting.blogspot.com
author by iosaf mac diarmadapublication date Thu Mar 27, 2008 23:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors



For netiquette's sake, & any law suits (hee hee) I admit to submitting the article.

This is a workers' issue & ew can leave no doubts about that. Microsoft announced new product development which will help employers monitor their staff through visual recognition software in the last six months. The argument being that higher executives' productivity would be more competitive if the human resources department knew (without bothering to ask them) how they were feeling. But the scale and intrusion of privacy & intimacy surfacing in the "LIDL spy scandal" goes far beyond any gimick of our 21st century computerised security age. The depths of intrusion which have now brought ministers in government in Germany to condemn these labour abuses make the habit of monitoring the hygiene of employees' housed in "Ford villages" & checking their kids for lice & patriotic attitude in the early 20th century seem inspirational socialist. & Fordism was anything but inspiration socialism.

LIDL not only spied on their staff themselves they used a third party investigation agency whose employees have direct links to the former secret service of the East German state the "stasi".

The profiles which were kept and used for evaluating employees and human resource strategy and future cost saving measures in a European multinational company engaged in a key sector of food and discount clothing retail read less like the "starbucks" crap of team work & multi-tasking aptitudes of the ideal barrista & more like the horrifically fascist (or Stalinist) checklists for social difference.

Without trying to be clever, let me remind everyone that without a food supply we starve. & in this 21st century the price of core foodstuffs in Europe, as globally, is tied to the cost of energy in production or transportation of foodstuffs as much as the capitalist advantage to be gained or (forgive the pun) reaped from arable land. I long before made the "peak oil = peak bread" connection. A recent issue of the "Economist" demonstrated that that connection has now been made in even free-market or right wing circles. It is more profitable to produce crops for biofuel than it is for the human (or equally important subsidiary) animal food chains. & at the other end of the Food/Famine paradigm of 21st century errant & ultimately & logically catastrophic capitalism we find retail of food increasingly concentrated in the hands of ever fewer and more powerful supermarket corporations who perversely extract ever higher profits from selling food at reduced labour costs with near minimal shrinkage due to theft or pilfering or even perishable foodstuff (it's sold for animal feed).

In the USA only one corporation sells food to the vast majority of consumers. The "Wal-mart" corporation with its logo "save money live better" is the indisputed arbitrator of the minimum wage which ironically by the ignorant is still called the "mcjob", the minimum wage in turn sets the glass ceiling of the precarious and exploitative labour conditions endured by black market immigrants. Wal-mart is in fact the largest largest public corporation by revenue, according to the 2007 Fortune Global 500 list. It's come a long way since its founders the Walton family (of Walton mountain) sold nicnacs & tinned beans to rednecks. It sets the wages of workers (all of us regardless of how far away from a shelf stacker we feel) because it is the largest single employer on the planet.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wal-Mart

In the UK the supermarket chain "Tesco" with its slogan "every little helps" emerged during the early mid Blair regime years fostered by New Labour as a key doner & potential employment generator and enemy of the conservative "Sainsburys" to now be one of the most powerful corporations in the UK. It is the third largest retailer globally which regularly breaks government regulations in the UK with near impunity as this documentary from "channel 4's Dispatches" program entitled "Tesco the Supermarket that's eating Britain" illustrates. (i've thoughtfully embedded that link - click on the picture) http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=-138163901489...22585
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesco Since Tesco entered the Irish market in 2003 it has opened 95 stores.

The 2nd largest retailer globally just behind Wal-mart & ahead of Tesco but with no sites in Ireland is the French Carrefour. It's slogan is "Choice and quality for everyone". It offers that choice from the Peoples' Republic of China to Turkey, Spain to Colombia, Roumania to Malaysia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrefour

Those 3 retailing entitites have more daily impact on your life, - no matter how far from stacking shelves you feel yourself to be on the ladder of class conscienceness than the "seven sisters" or Oil & Gas exploration & exploitation giants. They decide what you eat, where it is produced, where it was grown, where it will next be seeded, how healthy you will be, how many wrinkles you will have, & I could go on...................

I hope you do.

We have enough food on this planet to feed everyone alive and enough surplus to breed at least three times more than our current global population. So ask yourself - Who's making it expensive?

every little helps.

every little hurts.
every little hurts.

author by iosafpublication date Fri Mar 28, 2008 22:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This afternoon LIDL offered an apology today to its workers & customers for the crimes which have come to light since the German magazine "Stern" turned their investigative journalist interest on them. http://derstandard.at/?url=/?id=3281675

This is interesting for many reasons, of which I invite you to ponder only a little now.

(1) LIDL had previously denied all wrong-doing in its horrendous use of espionage services & vile collation of data on its employees, an apology to both primary victims of the abuse & crimes (the workers) may not be inferred to mean proper compensation or redress. All the data must be destroyed but prior to its destruction it must be made available to the workers in question no matter if they still be in the current employment of LIDL & any references or HR assessments provided by LIDL on behalf its employees current or past are now of dubious quality. Furthermore, an apology issued on a Friday to both workers and customers does nothing to convince us (me anyway work with me on this) that LIDL's senior management and directorate in either Germany or anywhere in Europe are sincerely interested in preserving any other trust than that of loyal customers.

As we read on the "Taz" site in Germany the boycott which has begun of LIDL stores in that country is having an effect. But before we focus all our energy on just one discount food provider or worse allow the lessening media attention or adverse public opinion to help us forget it all I would ask people to consider the other giants in European and global food retailing which I quickly sumarised in the last comment.

for those who don't understand Gaeilge (Irish) "ná lig sinn i gcáthu" which appeared in the last comment means "do not lead us into temptation" & the Irish which heads this comment "Ár n-arán laethúil tabhair dúinn inniu" means "give us our daily bread". I admit I confused the quotations or rather in mentioning "peak bread" (that most powerful substance which by smell alone can sell a house) in the last comment forgot to place "ná lig sinn i gcáthu" (do not lead us into temptation). Some years ago I was very surprised though qualified to be offered a certain job given my cultural & educational & other backgrounds. A provincial school in Spain engaged me to teach drama, music & English as much for Irish nationality as for experience in such work. The school was (& is) a member of the Opus Dei movement. Within one week they had submitted me to four "honesty tests" the last of which saw an extra ten thousand pesetas put in the envelope which contained my wages. They had not registered me for social security being generally against any support of state power preferring to maintain their opposing clerical power on the black market of clinking plates. I kept the ten thousand pesetas & told them to go fuck themselves. I remember within months the CNT anarcho-syndicalist union in Valencia managed to expose & contribute to the eventual prosecution of myriad employers (not all of the Opus Dei ilk) who had used similar "honesty tests" on their employees.

LIDL used such tests. LIDL lied. LIDL apologises..,
Has LIDL now pressured german language indymedia & wikipedia???

.................................................................................................tell you next week.
After all, LIDL aren't the scientologists & they aint the stassi so we've nothing to be frightened about. do we?
.............ach saor sinn ó olc.

Related Link: http://www.taz.de/1/zukunft/wirtschaft/artikel/1/gruene-raet-zum-lidl-boykott/?src=MT&cHash=97fe6f53
author by kellypublication date Wed Dec 09, 2009 11:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lidl are a horrible company to work for.
They deny their workers breaks during the day on a routine basis. The thoughts being- if you have enough time to eat lunch, you're not busy enough. Workers were forced to work extremely long hours for no extra pay.
Constant threats of redundancy, being screamed at in front of colleagues for no apparent reason etc. Because as I was told by a senior manager - if you do something wrong, everyone deserves to know about it!
I can't count the amount of times I've seen people break down in tears in the office.
Many left as when they complained about bullying in the organisation, their comments were ignored and they were forced to continue wokring side by side with the perpetrator.

author by Spied on - ex-lidl-employeepublication date Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I used to work for Lidl. They monitored my movements in store using CCTV. I didn't steal anything, assault or abuse any person. They simply wanted to monitor my movements in and out of the store. I was never informed that they were actually doing this or going to do this.
Were they permitted to do this and do I have any form of redress (if that's the right word for it) for this incident/investigation that was carried out over a number of days?

author by Sceptic - None whatsoeverpublication date Tue Aug 31, 2010 16:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

and your point is .....................

That german orientated language of bully boy tactics which is occuring in LIDL is going

on in a number of other supermarket chains around Ireland . and dont try and tell me it

isn't , what do people expect in times of recession , a glowing report of how well they are

doing ? Most managers in supermarkets, as well as staff ,are being demonised at this

very moment in time ,whether you know it or not .....

God bless the dole figures, according to Fat Cats of supermarkets, who delight in the

rising 435, 000 unemployed we have today .

author by On the Dole.publication date Thu Sep 02, 2010 22:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I love Lidl and Aldi.
But I pay with cash.
People who are stupid enough to give supermarkets pass card details deserve to be on the dole.

author by Spied on - ex-lidl-employeepublication date Fri Sep 03, 2010 17:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

@ sceptic. The point is that they haven't learn't from the disaster in Germany. A director lost his job in Germany simply because a disgruntled Sales & Operation manager dumped documents in a bin in a filling station.
If you've worked for the company you'd know straight away what the point is and what it's like to work for such a company........and yes I do realise that for the most part far away hills are not greener and there's no such thing as a free lunch any more with most ERs, but relative to working for Lidl it's like working in a holiday camp when you work for one of the other grocery multiples in Ireland (I exclude Aldi from that because I suspect they may be more similar to Lidl than the rest, that's not to say Aldi are not a bit like Lidl either).

I worked for Lidl in 4 different positions for a total of over 4 and a half years.
I've also worked for some of the other large multiples, so I think I would be in a position to compare and pass comment.

author by ex employeepublication date Sat Sep 04, 2010 16:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just to quote your comment and it is a valid point......Lidl are a horrible company to work for.
They deny their workers breaks during the day on a routine basis. The thoughts being- if you have enough time to eat lunch, you're not busy enough. Workers were forced to work extremely long hours for no extra pay.
Constant threats of redundancy, being screamed at in front of colleagues for no apparent reason etc. Because as I was told by a senior manager - if you do something wrong, everyone deserves to know about it!
I can't count the amount of times I've seen people break down in tears in the office.
Many left as when they complained about bullying in the organisation, their comments were ignored and they were forced to continue wokring side by side with the perpetrator.......i would also like to add it is not just Lidl who are subjecting their labour level workers to this and other managment collegues in ireland..
I have witness some appaling situations of bullying where i work amongst my collegues,and you shall not dare speak out unless you are intent on recieving your p45..

Siptu collude with many companies,there is some corruption amongst siptu staff,but siptu will go after the big companies,and really only go after certain cases they are guaranteed to get in the spotlight(As this is great advertising) over maybe you should complain to them seeming you work for Lidl..

author by coffee guypublication date Sat Sep 04, 2010 17:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

work is all about first impressions,if you walk in and see someone screaming at other employees at work,it is obvious that individual has no people management skills..

author by choices you makepublication date Sat Sep 04, 2010 23:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

if you are a manager,it is a thankless job,you are leaving yourself wide open..

author by corporate giantspublication date Sat Sep 04, 2010 23:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

if the thoughts being- if you have enough time to eat lunch, you're not busy enough,it is obvious these employers have no real empathy for their workers,maybe they haven't worked a decent day in their life,(Workers were forced to work extremely long hours for no extra pay sounds like a mangers ultimate fantasy..)!

author by COGGYpublication date Sun Sep 05, 2010 00:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I worked there for about 2 months,got sick of some manager trying to look important in front of other collegues,i had the liberty of giving the manager a good dressing down before i left..then complained to a workers union,they are good if you have all your facts straight..

These people spend their whole lives running on a cog wheel,trying to give themselves importance,they never make a real impression on the world,the best they can expect is a milestone mortgage and a coronary related death,maybe a good midlife crisis which will see half their wage down the p*ss..

author by brentpublication date Sun Sep 05, 2010 00:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

''Included in the internal memos were suggestions that menstruating women employees wear a coloured headband so managers could allow them extra "toilet time", time which would be denied male or non-menstruating employees. It gets worse.., "tattoos"........."wants higher wages"........"junkie friends"......... disgusting f***g disgusting,if i was on the work,i swear i would have no shame in cutting his throat like a pig..

author by holaspublication date Sun Sep 05, 2010 00:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

yeah he might need some extra toilet time after that!

author by coffee guypublication date Sun Sep 05, 2010 00:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

no shots of coffee would ever cushion the blow of working in a lidl supermarket hahahahahahaaha

author by seamuspublication date Sun Sep 05, 2010 01:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

what do you expect LIDL is a big CORPORATE GIANT..With no people based values,even for their long term employees..

author by ex lidl workerpublication date Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

yeah i would be tempted to run in wearing a red headband on ..lidl is a s*** place to work,unless youre okay with being walked over by some aged balding manager..

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