INITIATIVES FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE NEEDED IN GERMANY--and elsewhere--NOW
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 & SUBCONTRACTING
"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 click here
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."