German rail unions tell Deutsche Bahn to explain 'spying scandal'

2nd February 2009, Comments 0 comments

The rail operator admitted spying on 173,000 of its 237,000 employees as part of a corruption probe.

Berlin -- Two of Germany's biggest railway unions called on the state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn to explain why it secretly spied on more than half its workers between 2002 and 2003.

On Wednesday, the rail operator admitted spying on 173,000 of its 237,000 employees as part of a corruption probe.

"The current explanations are not good enough," said the unions Transnet and GDBA in a joint statement, adding that they want Deutsche Bahn to give a more detailed account of the events at a special board meeting.

"We expect management to inform the workers" who have been spied on, they added.

The German government Friday stepped up pressure on Deutsche Bahn's Chairman Hartmut Mehdorn, who told Focus magazine that neither he, nor the company's management or the board of directors knew anything about the affair.

The magazine added that security companies employed by Deutsche Bahn were responsible for carrying out the surveillance.

The aim of the surveillance was to find any suspect connections which could reveal that bribes were paid in exchange for contracts, according to participants at a closed-door meeting of parliament's transportation committee Wednesday.

According to sources close to the committee, Deutsche Bahn pursued investigations in about 100 cases. However, no information leaked about whether corrupt employees were uncovered and if so how many.

Deutsche Bahn said Wednesday in a statement that it did nothing against the law and its "screening" process had been recommended by experts.

The spying scandal also comes as Deutsche Bahn chief Mehdorn faces demands for pay rises and technical problems on the high-speed ICE trains. He is also reportedly dealing with a slump in its cargo business.


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