Hartmut Mehdorn issues an apology to employees following a meeting with the company's workers' council. The apology comes as many call for the Deutsche Bahn CEO to step down.
Deutsche Bahn apologizes for the way it spied on its employees
The board of directors at Deutsche Bahn "apologizes to its employees," Mehdorn said after a meeting with the workers' council on Friday in Frankfurt. The Transnet, GDBA and GDL unions had already been demanding that Mehdorn issue an apology for the two surveillance operations conducted on employees.
Deutsche Bahn has acknowledged that the bank data of 173,000 employees was secretly compared with customer data in an effort to uncover corrupt practices. The first operation was conducted in 2002-2003 and, according to new information confirmed by Deutsche Bahn this week, a second employee investigation was carried out in 2005 on the same number of employees.
The operations have sparked anger from the company's employees and even anti-corruption agency Transparency International has said that Germany's national rail company Deutsche Bahn went too far with its two mass employee surveillance operations. The agency questioned the legality of the surveillance procedures, considering that workers' representatives were not involved, nor were the affected employees informed of the investigations after they took place.
Prior to the meeting on Friday, Mehdorn had conceded that employee representatives should have been involved in the operation.
Mehdorn has some explaining to do at the next meeting
Ministry of Transport steps in
The Ministry of Transport has also announced that the board of directors at Deutsche Bahn has arranged an additional meeting for Feb. 18 to clarify the data affair. But Ministry spokesman Rainer Lingenthal says this is too late. A quick clarification is desired and will be communicated to the board "in a suitable way."
As to speculation that journalists and politicians were also monitored, Lingenthal points to a written dismissal regarding this claim from Mehdorn on Jan. 29. But now the "files will be put on the table," says the spokesman and the case will be judged.
Earlier this week the country's main telecommunications operator Deutsche Telekom also admitted to secretly spying on employees to uncover suspected cases of corruption.