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Moia buses in Hamburg: The company speaks of an "imprecise formulation"

Photo: Marcus Brandt / dpa

In the dispute over the break regulation at the Moia shared taxi service in Hamburg, a driver recently made serious accusations against her employer in the »Hamburger Morgenpost«. She needed "a permit to go to the bathroom," she told the newspaper. She and her colleagues felt "controlled and externally determined".

The company, which is wholly owned by the Volkswagen Group, had so far rejected the accusation that employees could not decide for themselves when to take a toilet break, in particular with reference to an alleged works agreement. A spokesperson said in October: "In contrast to the drivers on buses and trains, Moia drivers can take special breaks at any time. This is regulated in a works agreement with the works council."

Opt-out or approval?

According to SPIEGEL information, however, contrary to this statement, there is no company agreement on these special breaks in Hamburg. An agreement once concluded in Hanover was therefore never implemented in Hamburg. When asked, Moia admits: "Due to an internal misunderstanding, there was an imprecise formulation, which we very much regret."

On the substance, however, Moia continues to deny the accusation that drivers cannot decide for themselves when they can take a break. In addition, the break practice has now been "revised in favor of the employees within the framework of an official regulation" with the works council – and applies at both locations, but "without there having been a new works agreement."

Moia admits that drivers will still have to log out of the pooling system used to direct the minibuses around the city for a break. The reason for this, however, is operational reasons: "So that no more passengers are booked from this point on and have to wait accordingly in the vehicle while the driver takes a toilet break."

A total of around 1200 people work for Moia in Hamburg and Hanover. The majority are drivers and in the Hanseatic city, where 900 drivers are employed, almost 70 percent of them full-time. The union is critical of the working conditions at Moia and has recently called for another warning strike. Negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement at the Volkswagen subsidiary have recently failed, and IG Metall is demanding 5.2 percent more money and a further inflation compensation bonus as an immediate measure.

It remains to be seen how great the chances of success of these demands are. Overall, the VW Group is currently struggling with economic problems and high costs. VW wants to make massive savings and recently imposed a far-reaching hiring freeze. According to a report, the number of highest-paid employees covered by collective bargaining agreements is also no longer expected to grow.