A complaint against Lidl resulted in swift success: a few weeks after the complaint was made, Lidl agreed in a declaration to the Consumer Protection Agency to retract the claims made in the advertisements regarding fair working conditions.
Lidl can no longer make the following claims in its advertisements: "We trade fairly! Every product has a story. It is important to us who writes this story. Lidl advocates fair working conditions on a global scale. Therefore, at Lidl, we contract our non-food orders exclusively to selected suppliers and producers that are willing to comply with and can demonstrate their social responsibility. We categorically oppose every form of child labor, as well as human and labor rights violations in our production facilities. We continually strive to ensure these standards."
In April 2010, on the initiative of ECCHR and the Clean Clothes Campaign (Kampagne für Saubere Kleidung), 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 (ILO), the BSCI Code of Conduct and the voluntary obligations undertaken by Lidl.
Payment below the living wage, excessive overtime hours on six to seven days per week, workplace abuse and discrimination, repression of trade unions and frequent workplace accidents and fire disasters: this is the sad reality faced by millions of workers in South and East Asia. European companies aggravate the already poor conditions by demanding low prices and tough deadlines. This pressure is passed along to the workers by the factory owners.