A few winner. Thousands suffer and lose. Regional industries and the environment are being destroyed. In short, this is the conclusion of the “messes” that the corona crisis in Gütersloh and other German towns with huge slaughterhouses has now brought to the bright light of day. The biggest winner is Clemens Tönnies. Der Spiegel (No. 27) estimates its accumulated profits from the “pig system” at around two billion euros. And when Tönnies, who has almost 17 million animals “processed” in his factories every year, celebrates himself, he prefers to block rather than splatter: on his birthday he also had the hit Superstar Helene Fischer perform.
“Freedoms” of the WTO and the EU fully exploited
The man who also presided over the football club Schalke 04 had become the ugly face of the meat scandal in a short time. But it is not the Problem: the Problem is the System – the “pig system”, as the Spiegel ambiguously calls it. Already in 2016, a book on the subject was published: “Das Schweine-System. How animals tortured. Farmers are driven into Ruin and consumers are deceived”. Since then, everything has only gotten bigger, faster and worse.
Tönnies as well as other “meat barons” or “chops Kings” and their backers only use the deregulated “rules” that transnational organizations, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the European Union (EU) grant to some profiteers-but impose on millions of affected working people. The fact that these rules are also sold to us politically as “freedoms” borders on mockery. This is especially true for 7000 Romanian Tönnies slaughterhouse workers in Verl-Sürenheide. With their” freedom " it is all over for the moment: 1500 of them have become infected and are now locked in coronahalber behind lattice fences. The others are in quarantine. Der Spiegel writes it succinctly: “poor pigs, dismember poor pigs.”
Meanwhile, free trade experts stress that the EU has not forced the nation states to establish an export-oriented economic model based on wage dumping. But Brussels does not have the competence to prevent this model. However, the “fundamental freedoms” left room for harmonising labour market regulations in the EU internal market. Even in the world-wide effective WTO rules, there would be exceptions to human, animal, nature and health.
Freedoms for a few become constraints in the “sick System” for many
There would be. In the deregulated, de facto reality, this benefits exploited migrant workers in the EU area as well as displaced or even killed jungle dwellers in Latin America. Trade unions are closer to this reality than contract experts in Brussels (EU) or Geneva (WTO). The Swiss trade unionist Andreas Rieger writes in the UNIA-Zeitung “work” on the “pig system”: “and all this is EU-legally sanctioned by the transnational freedom to provide services. It makes chain contracts possible, endless temporary work and false independence.“Rieger writes: this “freedom” was invented in Brussels “to circumvent the social rights of workers – a sick System”.
The System starts before the"freedom to provide services”. With the” free circulation of capital”. Some large investors from Denmark, the USA and even China can “freely” invest in weak EU countries such as Romania-in huge pig factories with several hundred thousand animals. There is hardly any animal protection there (mother sows as Piglet production machines forced into metal cages without litter), hardly any environmental protection (pig smoke often flows somewhere), certainly not workers ' rights (terrain guarded by private security forces). Almost nothing and nobody is controlled. For this maximum Profit for the foreign capital owners. Local agriculture and trade, on the other hand, are ruined.
Forced to” free " passenger traffic
The result: poverty and unemployment are increasing. And now the “sub-Accordants” or “subcontractors” (often also called “modern slave drivers”) come and offer the desperate people work in foreign meat factories within the framework of the “free” EU passenger transport (free movement of persons). They transported the people to distant Germany and loaned them there to “chops-kings” like Tönnies. For wretched dwellings, they pay usury rent to migrant workers who are uprooted free of charge (300 euros for a place to sleep in a multi-bed room). For Transport to and from the workplace, they often collect 100 euros per month. There is not much left of the meagre wage of not even 10 euros per hour. But even these middlemen of the “liberally” EU-wide pushed “labor power” partly live in shamelessly ostentatious villas.
Ruinous” free " EU trade in goods and deadly WTO World Trade
And as if this were not enough for the “sick system” (Rieger), now under the Regime of the (customs)“free” EU trade in goods, a part of the unrivalled dirt-cheap torment meat (2 to 3 euros per Kilo) is also exported to the poor EU countries. Without a chance against this transnational competition, more and more smaller, local fattening farms and butcher’s shops are going bankrupt. And already the subcontractors again have new, desperate unemployed, which they can transport to Germany. “We are not looking for people, “one of these cynical middlemen is quoted in the mirror:” people are coming to us.”
The question remains how the sad animals are fed in the giant fattening farms. This is what the German member of Parliament and co-chairman of the Green Party in the Bundestag Anton Hofreiter (a biologist and tropical specialist) explained in the TV programme “Lanz”: food (soya, corn) is transported over thousands of kilometres from Latin America to good parts. There, however, local “small farmers are driven out or even murdered” and the rainforest is destroyed – only to be able to produce large-scale feed for the torment fattening plants worldwide. All within the framework of the WTO free trade rules.
And the Swiss Federal Council wants to extend such questionable “free trade agreements” even further. They are usually negotiated secretly.
Irresponsible EU-freedoms – no thanks!
Unia-Rieger calls all this “organized irresponsibility”. He writes: “The sick system (the Subaccordants) also exists in construction, logistics and other industries.”
Rieger warns: now south German politicians demanded that Switzerland must “adapt” to the sick System and the lax EU Standards with the “framework agreement"demanded by Brussels. The trade unionist’s answer is clear: “all we can say is: organised irresponsibility in Switzerland too? No thanks!” Supporters of the agreement, meanwhile, hope for new “EU posting rules” (theoretically equal pay for equal work anywhere in Europe). With how much “responsibility” such rules are concretely enforced in Germany, ARD has just shown in a documentary.
But Rieger does not need to worry either way: the controversial and, in my opinion, unnecessary to dangerous “framework agreement” will have little chance in front of the people. Meanwhile, a yes to the “corporate responsibility initiative” (KVI) could soon provide a little remedy for the evil global Dimension of the “pig system”.
Cheap polemic against deluded consumers
On the other hand, the now renewed scolding to the meat consumers is of little help: after all, they only wanted to buy the cheapest meat. Since media people with against 10.000 euro monthly wage affected the hunger wage policy of SPD and greens in Germany (Hartz IV/Aufstocker) who have to live with not even 1.000 Euro, the purchase of cheap meat from Aldi before (“greed of the audience”). This is cheap polemic. Especially because consumers in the EU are systematically deceived about the conditions under which exactly the meat was produced and processed: chops and fillets lie on the shelves under fantasy names and behind healing World pictures on the packaging. Consumers are certainly not “responsible” for the transnational “sick System"that politics allows (or does not prevent) with its guidelines. That this System has no future is obvious. However, it would have to be changed by those rulers who are still mostly caught up in market ideology. Or even indirectly benefit from the “pig system”: Tönnies, for example, is a generous Party donor to the CDU in power in Germany (and now also in the Brussels EU).