In April 2010, on the initiative of ECCHR and the Clean Clothes Campaign, the Hamburg Consumer Protection Agency filed an unfair competition complaint against the German discount retailer Lidl for claims made in the company’s advertisements about fair working conditions in their supplier chain. The complaint accused Lidl of deceiving consumers by using advertisements to create the impression that the working conditions at Lidl suppliers were fundamentally good and complied with minimum standards set by Lidl.
A study by the CCC and ECCHR was able to show, however, that in fact the opposite was true. Inhumane working conditions were reported by seamstresses working at many of Lidl’s suppliers: excessive working hours, wage deductions as punishments, non-existent or uncertain payment for overtime, obstruction of trade union activity and discrimination against female employees. The practices described violate the conventions of the International Labour Organization, the BSCI Code of Conduct and the voluntary obligations undertaken by Lidl.