Torsten Sting, member of SAV (German Section of the CWI) who worked for the Sixt car rental company in Rostock as a call centre adviser, was dismissed on March 3. The management originally talked about “business-related reasons” and at the same time said that there was no longer a basis “for a trustful cooperation”. But the truth is that this is an attempt to stop the foundation of a works committee in Sixt’s branch in Rostock.
Sixt is one of the biggest car renters in Europe and operates in over 80 countries worldwide. For decades the company has been run by Erich Sixt with an iron hand. The company has been highly profitable for many years, Sixt and his family are multimillionaires. Their wealth is the result of blatant exploitation of the employees. Low wages are the rule - about one thousand euros net - in stressful shift systems! Those who work on the telephone hotline have to fight with the turning loop and handle annoyed customers. Whoever wants to recover from the stress must be very patient. Depending on the particular shift workers can have a break only after four to five hours working time and this is for only 30 minutes. If you have to work in a section which must work at the weekend, you can work up to eight days in one go.
Annoyance and fear
These conditions are the reason that many employees are very opent o forming a works committee. But there is also the fear that the active participation in the founding of a works committee can cost the job. Even on Wikipedia you can read: “The company made headlines in July 2006 by dismissing two branch managers who supported the formation of a works committee. Until now the leadership of the Sixt company has prevented the foundation of a single works committee.”
In many conversations with fellow workers Torsten Sting had pointed out again and again that the founding of a works committee is essential for the preservation of the interests of the colleagues. Moreover he, together with other colleagues, spoke frankly about serious weaknesses in his team and was successfully in winning improvements in the wage and working conditions. Because of this he received two cautions, even though they were justified differently. On the morning of March 3 Torsten Sting got the information from a colleague that the branch in Frankfurt invited to a works committee election meeting in the Sixt branch office. He felt confirmed and took courage to try it in Rostock once again after two approaches failed within the years before. In connection with this, he was called for an interview and dismissed. He had immediately to vacate his place and to leave the building.
Solidarity urgently needed
After his dismissal a colleague contacted Torsten and the two managed at least to find further comrades-in-arms in the company who wanted to support the foundation of a works committee. Some days after the union IG Metall wrote to the management and asked to communicate about the details of the works committee election, altogether four colleagues (Torsten Sting got a proper notice of termination) were dismissed without notice.
The dismissed colleagues and the Sixt employees in Rostock need our support. If the company gets wins the workers will feel intimidated and the opportunities founding a works committee will face foundation. If the cancellations will be withdrawn and a founding of a works committee happens, this would be a great success and an encouragement for other staff.
Please send letters of protest to:
Model letter of protest
Immediate withdrawal of the dismissals!
No further hindrance to the founding of a works committee in Sixt!
To the Management
Dear Sir or Madam//To whom it may concern,
I have learned with horror of the dismissal of several colleagues who wished to form a works council at your Rostock branch. For many years, Sixt company has made big profits on the basis of your employees’ work, without staff your company would not function. But it appears that, as in the case of other companies too, you profit thanks to the cheap labour of your employees. This seems to have created growing resistance and the idea that the workforce needs to organise itself. In Rostock there is great interest in founding a works committee and the workforce are starting to strive for this goal. However it seems that with the dismissals you want to make sure that the foundation of a works committee is prevented.
As this undemocratic behaviour becomes more widely known it will inevitably damage Sixt’s reputation internationally in many of the over 80 countries you operate in.
I sharply protest against your behaviour and will attempt to spread news about what is happening in order to encourage consumers to use other rental companies until these dismissed workers are fully reinstated and your employees are able to freely organise themselves.