Lidl Spying on Retail Employees

23:38 Sun 30 Mar 2008. Updated: 17:10 28 Jan 2009
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From the what-were-they-thinking department: the German supermarket chain Lidl has been caught spying on their employees.

And by “spying”, I mean reporting on things like what low-level employees talk about during their breaks and who the friends of employees are, with information apparently gathered by private detectives and running to the hundreds of pages in documentation.

My first question was “why?”, given that it hardly seems worthwhile, in purely monetary terms, to expend the resources required to do surveillance on that many employees. I thought it might be management in the paranoid/authoritarian mold, which seems sadly common in large businesses, and that’s probably a big part of it, but in addition there are allegations that Lidl systematically abuses low-level workers, and the combination of these things suggests that Lidl are trying to enforce a rigid, fear-driven structure as a way of keeping workers malleable and more exploitable.

I hope there’s a significant backlash here, and that this backlash costs them a lot more money than they might have gained by using these tactics (which would probably be a lot of money). Of course, I also hope that their competitors aren’t pulling the same crap, because that makes activism on the purely consumer level less effective.

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One Response to “Lidl Spying on Retail Employees”

  1. kevintel Says:

    I suspect that consumer activism is something that is really a middle-class phenomenon, which produces the likes of (in Ireland, for example) Superquinn or Marks and Spencers. Lidl is a chain that trades on being so incredibly cheap, that it’s target market is self-defining. Certainly many of the people here who shop there, and likely on the continent too, aren’t terribly interested in what Lidl does to bring the prices down to that level. The alternative is, for example, Aldi, which somewhat more expensive but has a selection and they are probably not shy of similar strategies in managing their workforce.

    I think the EU has some rules for this kind of situation, and the publicity might see them getting enforced, which I agree would be a good thing.

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