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article imageAldi staff wrapped in plastic film, threatened with freezer-time

By Anne Sewell     Sep 27, 2013 in Odd News
In a string of abuse allegations to be published in a book by a former manager, trainees at the German discount supermarket chain, Aldi Süd, speak of the abuse they received, including being wrapped in plastic film until they could hardly breathe.
As reported in Der Spiegel (German language), the abuse allegations appear in an updated edition of Inside Aldi, a book by a former Aldi Süd manager, Andreas Straub.
According to the trainees at the discount chain, they were wrapped in clingfilm and also chained to posts as a punishment for "being cheeky."
One trainee said, "The foil was so tight I could hardly breathe." The same trainee accuses his colleagues of also smearing permanent marker over his face in a fraternity-style attempt at an initiation. All of this was sanctioned by their supervisors.
The trainee said he did not initially report the incident as he was afraid he would lose his job:
"I was scared of being fired right away, as I was still on my trial period," he said.
On top of this, staff reportedly also threatened to lock him in a minus 20-degree freezer if he was cheeky again.
In the book, other allegations include accounts of staff being bullied using rats and also subjected to "psychological terror" for speaking up for their rights.
According to Straub, Aldi is not the only supermarket chain that abuses its staff.
The book is the second one by the former employee. Apparently the first, 'Aldi, Einfach Billig' (Aldi, Simply Cheap) is going to be made into a film, and accuses the supermarket chain of spying on its employees, and setting unreasonable performance standards.
Straub told The Local: "There was a culture of fear at Aldi Süd and nothing has changed since the publication of the [first] book. I hope this might lead to some changes."
The Local says that earlier in 2013, a former detective told Der Spiegel that management at an Aldi store in Dornstadt in Baden-Württemberg had requested him to install miniature cameras over the lockers in the staff changing rooms.
He told Der Spiegel in January that he was tasked to report all irregularities:
"So [I had to say something] if a member of staff was working too slowly, or if I heard about them having a relationship with another member of staff, or received other details from their private lives, for example their financial situations."
According to Spiegel Online (in German), Aldi has repeatedly denied spying on its staff, and said it was "shocked" by the latest allegations and would "do everything" to investigate the reports.
And now, according to the Local, Aldi Süd has finally said in a statement: "To our dismay, our internal investigation shows that the incident described does in essence represent the truth."
"We regret this incident in the distribution center in Mahlberg, which according to our research, took place at the end of 2012/beginning of 2013 and are deeply concerned."
Apparently the company has now negotiated termination agreements for seven employees which include redundancy payments.
The company first thought about terminating the employees without notice, but eventually management opted for voluntary redundancies — a quite common practice at Aldi.
Der Spiegel says that "because of the severance, the trading company bought silence as usual."
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