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Spaniards stranded in fake German job scandal

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Spaniards stranded in fake German job scandal
The central German city of Erfurt (above) is home to some 200,000 people. File photo: Martin Schutt/DPA/AFP
12:23 CEST+02:00
A group of young Spanish jobseekers have been left to fend for themselves in a town in central Germany after an intermediary company that promised them training, language courses and accommodation failed to deliver.

Some of the 128 Spaniards who signed up for the promising deal have been waiting in vain in the city of Erfurt in the region of Thuringia for over a month now.

German intermediary company Sphinx Consulting recruited them in their Madrid offices, assuring them they would be able to begin their work training in Germany as soon as they landed.

But upon their arrival they were faced with a much more dire situation.

Their work contracts hadn't been finalized, their accommodation was run down and there was no sign of the German classes starting anytime soon.

"It's not that we’re dying of hunger," 20-year-old Sara told Spanish newspaper El País.

"They just haven’t kept a single one of their promises."

Many of the budding employees have moved out of the dingy halls of residence they were placed in and into cleaner, more spacious accommodation.

None of them have been reimbursed yet for the flight or money they had to pay in advance for the German classes, both sums that should have been covered by the EU-funded scheme.

There is no sign of them being paid the €818 monthly salary they were promised either.

Kerstin Schmidt, the person in charge of the German branch of Sphinx Consulting SL, denies any wrongdoing.

She told El País she hadn't been negligent and claimed that the Spanish jobseekers "had been given false expectations".

Schmidt, who received a commission for every job contract awarded, claimed that for those people who didn't have work it "was because they hadn't stuck to the accommodation and training they had originally been assigned".

On Wednesday, representatives of the Thüringen Chamber of Commerce and local unions met in what local daily the Thüringer Allgemeine called a crisis summit.

The plan is to find jobs or apprenticeships for the 90 young Spaniards left stranded by Sphinx Consulting SL, a company which may soon be embroiled in legal action against them.

"We have to help these young people as quickly as possible," said Matthias Machnig, Thüringen's economy minister.

"Some of them are only 18-years-olds and this is their first time in Germany.

“We have a moral duty,” said Machnig.

“We are in constant contact with the people (Spaniards) and also with employers,” said Andreas Knuhr with the regional development body the Welcome Centre, the Thüringer Allgemeine reported.

Around 80 of the Spaniards could find work in the hospitality industry said another local union representative.

The move comes after a Thüringer Allgemeine report on Tuesday on the plight of the young Spaniards.

The latest from Spanish news agency EFE is that 37 of the affected have signed up for internships. 

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