- Danish Crown, a German-based holding company, owns slaughtering and meat processing factories which subcontract workers on the site from letterbox companies in Poland, Hungary and Romania. Workers have 14-20 hour working days and no pension and health insurance payments, are not employed by the same ‘subcontractor’ for more than 6 months, have contracts passed from one letterbox company to another.
- Vos Transport, a Dutch road transport company, earns 70% of its revenue from Dutch activities, but 50% of journeys are carried out under contract by letterbox companies in Romania and Lithuania. These companies have no proper offices, drivers’ contracts are signed by a Dutch manager, they receive instructions from the Netherlands and are obliged to open a Dutch bank account. Wages are €200 a month with the rest made up of expense payments and illegal bonuses.
- Serneke, a Swedish construction company that allegedly sacked its workers and subsequently subcontracted workers from a Polish registered letterbox company which shares an office and telephone with the Polish-Swedish Chamber of Commerce. According to first findings, social security contributions could have been unpaid for four years (in Sweden and Poland) despite being deducted from the workers’ salaries.
- FIAT, historically owned by an Italian family, is registered in Amsterdam and headquartered in London. It pays corporate tax in UK and tax on dividends and capital gains from foreign subsidiaries in Holland (and pays less that if it did so in Italy).
Letterbox-type practices: avoiding taxes and exploiting workers across the EU
EFFAT is the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions. As a European Trade Union Federation representing 120 national trade unions from 35 European countries, EFFAT defends the interests of more than 22 million workers towards the European Institutions, European employers’ associations and transnational companies. EFFAT is a member of the ETUC and the European regional organisation of the IUF.