Saturday, September 12, 2009


By Kevin Stoda, Germany

As the German national elections draw near at the end of September 2009, the leftist and more progressive groups in the country are drawing votes away from the major center party, the SPD (Socialist Party of Germany). The issue of “Lohndumping” and cries for social justice art at heart of the advance of the far left party, DIE LINKE (The Left).

The Left Party is currently expected to get 12% of the national vote on the final Sunday of September when all Germans can go to the Polls and elect their national representation. (They had only received 5 % of the vote four years ago.)

This success of the rising LEFT may appear to be a surprising situation for most other parts of the world to imagine because the German economy has been seen as the best in Europe for decades.


“Lohndumping” is a German word that basically translates into English as “Dumping Salaries” or “Dumping Salary”. But, what does “Dumping Salary” mean in English?

“Dumping Salary” means that the worker who earns such salaries in Germany is earning an unlivable wage. That is he or she is being dumped on by system that fails to even set a national minimum wage. This coming week the Wiesbaden study group “Arbeitskreis gegen Lohndumping und Leiharbeit” (the Workgroup against Dumping-Salaries and Sub-Contracted Employment) is focusing on this massive problem in Germany.

“Leiharbeit” or subcontracting in Germany in its various forms is often to be seen as part-time or transitional work. So, the government does not require the firms or individuals doing it to put the full amount of their earnings into the national social security and insurance system. However, many businesses rely on these types of employment annually and to too great a degree.

Markus Pastorek of this Anti-Dumping Wage group in Wiesbaden, Germany writes, “More and more actively employed people are working under precarious wage conditions with hourly wages sometimes below 5 dollars an hour [3.50 Euro] and must depend on Harz IV funds [government assistance funds established only to be transitional but have not been] to get by. Many of those affected are members of our organization and support the Initiative for Social Justice.”

Here is the website for the Initiative for Social Justice in Wiesbaden

Millions of Germans are certainly affected but immigrants have been effected even more. For example, since the European market is so well integrated in Germany, many non-Germans have landed in Germany over the past decades. Some of these laborers, such as those from southern and eastern Europe have very poor social welfare support and retirement support in their birthplaces to fall back on.

Pastorek has noted, “We are working for the adoption of rules that are of sufficient strength to require supermarkets to pay living wage tariffs and dissolve the complete overdependence on subcontractors, so that the same pay and working conditions apply to all employees at the same firm.”


The local Wiesbaden working group is also active with the national trade unions, such as IG Metall and Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB). Pastorek says, “The reality is such that in many of the ‘Dumping Wage’ jobs and subcontracting work, there has been little to no organization so far. That is because many laborers in these positions work only for a short time in one place before moving on to others. In this situation, getting to have good relations with the local labor unions has been minimal.”

Initiative for Social Justice in Wiesbaden is one of the regional groups working to get labor unions to become more involved in this facet of the economy. This next week, the DGB will meet with the Initiative for Social Justice in Wiesbaden.

The Initiative for Social Justice in Wiesbaden has been very active. Not a week goes by when new posters are not pasted around town by Initiative for Social Justice in Wiesbaden and a new workgroup meetings are held regularly.

I think not only do Germans and their labor unions need to organize with so much energy today in 2009, but Americas and other peoles need to get on the ball and organize subcontractors and underpaid citizens and immigrants more.

Living wages, legal protections, and good retirement or insurance funds are needed by all—regardless as to whether one is an immigrant or national of the land they are laboring in.


A copy of a recent letter from the Initiative for Social Justice in Wiesbaden follows in German.

Liebe Mitglieder und Freunde der Initiative,

wir möchten unseren Arbeitskreis gegen Lohndumping und Leiharbeit am 16.09.2009 ankündigen. Dieser findet um 19.°° Uhr in der Gaststätte Eintrachthaus, Hellmundstraße 25, in Wiesbaden-Westend statt.

Der Arbeitskreis hat sich am Dienstag, 08.09.2009 im Zusammenhang mit unserer Veranstaltung mit Axel Gerntke vom IG-Metall-Vorstand gegründet.

Immer mehr Berufstätige arbeiten in präkeren Arbeitsverhältnissen mit Stundenlöhnen, die bis auf € 3,50 herunter gehen und müssen deshalb ergänzende Leistungen nach Hartz IV beziehen. Viele dieser Betroffenen sind auch Mitglieder und Sympatisanten der Initiative für soziale Gerechtigkeit.

Wir wollen die Übernahme aller Regalauffüller in die Supermärkte bei einer tariflichen Bezahlung, die Abschaffung der Leiharbeit, damit die jetzt dort darüber Beschäftigten den gleichen Lohn und Arbeitsbedingungen erhalten wie die Stammbelegschaften.

Um dies zu erreichen arbeiten wir mit den betreffenden Gewerkschaften zusammen. Die Realität zeigt, daß gerade bei den diesbezüglich Beschäftigten kaum jemand gewerkschaftlich organisiert ist. Zudem arbeiten diese oft nur für eine kurze Zeit in einem Betrieb. Dadurch sind sie über die normale Gewerkschaftsarbeit schlecht erreichbar. Wir als Initiative arbeiten außerbetrieblich und können dadurch diese Arbeitnehmer losgelöst von der betrieblichen Beschäftigung erreichen und aktivieren. Deshalb sehen wir unsere Arbeit als Ergänzung zu den den diebezüglichen gewerkschaftlichen Aktivitäten an. Wir würden uns deshalb auch freuen, wenn seitens der Gewerkschaften Mitglieder in unserem Arbeitskreis mitarbeiten würden.

Zur Durchsetzung von konkreten Verbesserung für die Betroffenen werden wir auch unseren bisherigen erfolgreichen Druck, zum Beispiel durch unsere Plakate, anwenden. Wiesbadener Supermärkte und Zeitarbeitsfirmen müssen zukünftig damit rechnen, von unseren Plakaten umringt zu werden, die auf die dortigen Missstände hinweisen. Im Rahmen eine Kundenboykott hat zum Beispiel die Gewerkschaft ver.di Verbesserungen für die Beschäftigten herausholen können.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Markus Pastorek (Beisitzer)



Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

According to Democracy NOW:

Poverty Rate Hits 11-Year High; Number of Uninsured Grows for 8th Consecutive Year

Newly released figures show a significant rise in the number of Americans who are living in poverty and going without health insurance. The Census Bureau says 2.6 million Americans were plunged into poverty last year, bringing the poverty rate to an eleven-year high of 13.2 percent. It was the first major increase to the poverty rate since 2004. Median household income also fell 3.6 percent—the largest such decline on record. Meanwhile, the number of people without health insurance rose from 45.7 million to 46.3 million, the eighth straight year the ranks of the uninsured have grown. On Thursday, President Obama said the figures underscore the need for healthcare reform.

1:08 PM  

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