What happened to Ragu Express

Durstexpress: mass layoffs in Leipzig ineffective for the time being

The beverage supplier Durstexpress has to withdraw the layoffs for around 450 employees in Leipzig for the time being. This emerges from a letter from the Leipzig employment agency that is available to the start-up scene. The authority has therefore imposed a discharge ban, which will last until March 22. The termination date announced at the end of February is therefore ineffective.

In view of the situation on the labor market, "the public interest and that of the employees outweigh that of Durstexpress KG," the letter says. This should give employees more time to find a new job. The Durstexpress company could “economically be expected to postpone it”.

The background to the decision is a clause in the Dismissal Protection Act: Companies must report a mass layoff to the employment agency. The authority can object to the project in individual cases or obtain a postponement. This is exactly what happened in Leipzig. How things will continue in Berlin and Bochum, where around 500 and 100 employees are about to be laid off, is still unclear.

Damper for fusion with message in a bottle

Durstexpress is currently in the middle of the merger with the former competitor in a bottle. Due to the decision from Leipzig, the merger is now having a dampening effect. Both companies are aware of the letter from the employment agency, a spokesman confirmed to our editorial team. "We respect the decision of the Leipzig Employment Agency," announced the company. It has not yet been decided whether operations in the Leipzig Durstexpress warehouse will be continued for a few days longer due to the extended blocking period.

Durstexpress has always been a subsidiary of Dr. Oetker. After the Oetker Group bought up its competitor Bottle Post last year, it now wants to merge the two brands. Message in a bottle prevailed due to the “higher brand awareness and market penetration”, according to an internal letter to the employees. According to reports, Message in a Bottle is also a step ahead technically, for example in optimizing routes and tracking drivers.

In cities where the two delivery services were competitors, the warehouse of the weaker one was originally supposed to close by the end of February at the latest. Bottle Post says it employs 8,000 people at 22 locations. At Durstexpress there were most recently 3,500 employees at ten locations. In fact, the closings are only about Durstexpress locations.

Employees want to sue against dismissal

The employees learned of the merger on January 20, and a week later hundreds of them received the notice of termination by messenger. “It caught us freezing,” says an affected Dustexpress driver from Leipzig. “We knew that a message in a bottle had opened a warehouse nearby. But we were told that we don't have to worry about it. ”In view of the flourishing delivery business and the commitment of the employees in the Corona months, it is difficult to understand the terminations, says the driver.

Michael Brummund (33), who works as a student trainee at Durstexpress in Berlin, sees it that way. "The short-term termination is a disaster in the current Corona phase. From mid-March on, I'll be without money and still don't know how to pay for my apartment and the tuition fees, ”he told our editorial team. If in doubt, he can still ask his parents for help or sell his car. “But not all colleagues can do that,” says Brummund. He wants to sue his dismissal.

According to a message in a bottle, however, the outlook is not quite as bleak as some employees have drawn. The company is "very keen to continue to employ as many of the Durstexpress employees affected by closings as possible, so that there will be no significant staff reductions as a result," said a spokesman. This is because the terminated employees can reapply to Bottle Mail and should then be “prioritized”, which means that, unlike external applicants, they do not have to complete any trial work days or internships.

Trouble about alleged wage differences

From the point of view of the food-pleasure-restaurants union (NGG), the new acquisitions are a farce. "The colleagues are angry because they stay with the same owner, but find different conditions," says Ulf Henselin, NGG head of the drinks division. The fear is that the conditions will worsen significantly if you switch. The former competitor has a bad image for many. “There were also problems with Durstexpress, but at least the payment and cooperation were right. In the case of messages in a bottle, you are already conspicuous if you have been in the toilet for too long, ”says a driver from Leipzig who wants to remain anonymous.

When angry about the new applications, there are two main issues: the salary and the working hours. According to a notice posted on the post in a bottle from January 19, 2021, the start-up scene is available, delivery drivers get an hourly wage of 10.60 euros at the start, 11 euros after the trial period and 11.40 euros after two years. At Durstexpress, however, the hourly wage was two to three euros higher.

Message in a bottle assured on request that the Durstexpress employees would not deteriorate if they continued to work. “The majority of Durstexpress employees expect better salary conditions than previously at Durstexpress, both in terms of the basic wage and the option of performance bonuses, which are available at Durstexpress due to a renewed increase in the wages in a bottle in the logistics department on February 1, 2021 after a takeover there was no such thing, ”reports the company. "In addition, the Durstexpress employees affected by closures are given a higher ranking when the contract is concluded in order to honor their previous work experience."

No full-time guarantee

In addition to the question of salary, the Durstexpressler also fear that the new employer will no longer get the guaranteed number of hours per month, as there is no full-time guarantee there. Message in a bottle announced that "as a rule" fixed shifts of 40 hours per week were agreed. "In principle, however, it is up to the employee how many hours he works depending on the individual capacity."

However, the commitments build little trust among the workforce. According to information from the start-up scene, employees in Leipzig, Berlin and Dresden want to set up a works council to assert their interests. Several dismissal protection suits are pending in Berlin. In addition, the NGG union has started an online petition to keep jobs. So far, however, it has hardly found any supporters.

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