I read the following open letter in a FCSP fanzine at the weekend, and thought it was worth translating for English readers. I hope that the translation is accurate, and welcome corrections. For those that don’t know Upsolut Merchandising are responsible for the official merch at FC Sankt Pauli. For the time being it would be worthwhile considering where you shop. An original copy of the text in German can be found at the bottom of the page.
Dear directors, we, the part-time employees of the Fanshop at FC Sankt Pauli, are forced to contact you in this manner, as we are no longer prepared to quietly accept the deterioration of our working conditions.
As a merchandising company, you utilise the socially aware and alternative image of FC St. Pauli in order to sell a particular lifestyle, which you yourselves do not feel compelled to follow. We come to this conclusion, as there is no other way to explain why Upsolut is not wiling to make employment law decisions and take a socially responsible approach with its employees, that follows this aforementioned lifestyle.
We, the part-time employees of the Fanshop at the Millerntor stadium, have been trying for years to get you to listen to our concerns, but without success. The responsible managers have shown no attempt to clear up misundertandings, our suggestions for an improvement in our working situation have been ignored.
It continues to be the case, that people who have worked for your company a great length of time, are still employed without a written contract. Even though they have been working for years with an average of 80 hours a month, you still refuse to employee them through a contract. Why Upsolut Merchandising is not prepared to agree in writing a set workload for their part-time employees became clearer since the beginning of this new year; there is a clear desire to avoid entering into legal bindings with us. We provide the flexible masses, that can just be used on a whim.
The improvement in sales was built through us – on the backs of so-called „helpers“, who were always willing to get stuck in whenever they were needed, but in return could never count on any form of job security.
Since the beginning of the year the situation for part-time employees, particularly in the stores on the Reeperbahn and at the Millerntor Stadium, has got worse. The opening times have been shortened, and the shifts so dramatically reduced, that we often only get an average of 40-50 hours. Some get even less. Advanced warning of this is not provided, and we receive an „altered“ monthly workplan only on the day it comes into validity. As a result, planning for the month, is impossible.
Our suggestion, to tackle the annual problem of a drop in income at the beginning of the year through a flextime work record, has not been given any kind of response.
Other recent examples also show a lack of appreciation for our hard work or consistent HR policies. At the beginning of 2011, five of our colleagues were let go. The reasoning behind this was the relegation of the club into the second division. The laying off of these staff on these grounds is unacceptable though, when the opening of the new store on the Reeperbahn was due only a short time afterwards. That additional staff would be needed, was entirely clear, considering that the preparations for the new store were so advanced. The laying off of the staff in question is all the more dubious, considering that they were involved in preparations to set up a workers council at Upsolut Merchandising.
In the following months, many part-time employees applied for full-time positions offered internally within the Fanshop at the Millerntor – with sobering results. Not one single part-time employee was successful in increasing their hours, or in being made full-time, despite verbal agreements to the contrary. After the process of signing the contract, became drawn out over several weeks, it was then dismissed as a „misunderstanding“. We, the part-time employees, are not prepared to be treated as second class, and demand that you, the directors, follow the principle of equality and ensure that our working conditions are improved.
This should include written contracts that accurately depict our working conditions. This should also include sick pay and the legal requirement for holiday.
If modifications to work hours need to be made to match revenue, then these variations should be regulated through a suitable workhours model/system. The introduction of a flexitime system would allow workers to build up their hours in months where revenues are high, and then reduce them in weaker months.
The introduction of extra pay on Sundays and bank holidays, would also encourage a greater level of participation by staff on Sunday & night openings. This condition, which has been needed for some time, should of course not just be for part-time workers, but all employees in general. This would ensure work is rewarded properly within the Fanshop on the Reeperbahn, where the shop is generally open on Sundays and bank holidays.
You, the directors, should not underestimate our contribution to the success of the business, and therefore, should take care in maintaining a satisfied and motivated workforce. We cannot continue to endure current situation for the longterm.
Yours, the part-time employees of the Fanshop at the Millerntor.