Dr Werner Rugemer Germany
Even more working poor in rich Europe

Even more working poor in rich Europe

Dr Werner Rugemer Germany//3:52am, May 27th '22

In December 2021, Germany's state-run Federal Employment Agency signed an agreement with the Indian state of Kerala: Skilled workers are to come from there to Germany to work in hospitals and nursing homes. Similar agreements already exist with other Western-impoverished states, for example Vietnam, Tunisia and the Philippines. In this way, the agency aims to import 150,000 additional nursing staff to Germany from these third world countries over the next three years. The project also applies to craftsmen, waiters, cooks, truck and cab drivers.

Germany: Actually enough care workers

Actually, there are enough care workers in Germany. But they are poorly paid. And they have to work a lot of overtime. Many often get sick, many quit because of the overload, many go part-time. Despite many strikes, even during the pandemic, their wages were not increased; no additional staff positions were created. As a result, many unemployed people do not want to return to nursing.

So far, new nurses have been brought in from impoverished European Union (EU) member states in Eastern Europe, such as Poland, Romania, Croatia and Kosovo. But that's no longer enough. That's why both state and private hospital and nursing groups are looking for even cheaper and even more willing workers globally, outside the EU: in poor third countries, especially in Asia, then also in North Africa and South America.

In addition, individual hospitals pay "welcome bonuses" of up to 5,000 euros for this. Germany's largest state, North Rhine-Westphalia, will pay such a bonus of 3,000 euros from May 2022 on. The EU has provided 7.5 million euros so that North Rhine-Westphalia can recruit such 2,500 caregivers. There will be similar programs for other German states. Prerequisite: these people must have already completed training in their home country.

Rich Germany exploits its own employees - and poor India

This development has been going on for years. But it has been exacerbated by the pandemic policy. In the very first year of the 2020 pandemic, the German parliament passed legislation to promote the immigration of skilled workers. In the process, the standards for professional qualifications were lowered; they must also be provided in poor third countries.

Kerala(India), Vietnam, the Philippines, Tunisia, Egypt, Colombia, Mexico and so on are lured with it: These people in rich Europe will transfer a lot of money to their families back home! But the consequences: German people, among them many older people, remain unemployed. The German state saves the expenses for qualification and gets even cheaper employees. And the poor sending countries lack the skilled workers for their own development.


Germany thus violates the rules of the World Health Organization (WHO), which stipulates that a country must have at least four nurses per 1,000 people - but India has only 0.6. In this way, the corporations in rich Germany enrich themselves - and health care in India deteriorates even further!

Now also the EU: Recruitment in third countries

2021, the European Commission in Brussels has also set up such an additional project: Promoting the European Way of Life, it is euphemistically called.

The project is under the control of the Commission's vice president, the Greek Margaritis Schinas: the extremely "conservative" politician studied at the business-friendly London School of Economics. He coordinates the recruitment of skilled workers from third countries throughout Europe. Here, too, the focus is on care workers, but migrant employees are also to be brought in for the skilled trades, tourism and the digital economy.

Schinas uses modernist "values" to this end: Europe is supposed to be open to migration, equality and diversity. But it is precisely the organized second-class status of migrant workers from poor third countries that particularly blatantly contradicts human rights equality and violates the rights adopted by the UN and the International Labor Organization (ILO), such as the right to unionize and to collective bargaining agreements.

But violations of human rights labor and social rights have been normal practice for the US-led West and for the EU for decades.

Open to migration? Migrants are forcibly turned away at EU borders by police and locked up in camps outside the EU!

European Union: Zero-hour contracts

Germany is the leading labor injustice state in Europe: here work proportionally the most low-wage workers, including mini-jobbers, part-time workers, temporary employees: In construction, in the meat industry, in agribusiness, in domestic care of private households, in prostitution. Among them are also more and more women - between legal and illegal status. But, coordinated by the EU, the governments of the other rich states of Europe are proceeding similarly, i.e. England, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian states, Austria, Spain, even "neutral" Switzerland.

On November 17, 2017, the EU proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR). The 20 new rights in the EPSR are in a tradition of dozens of EU labor directives. They represent the historically lowest standard: Not only do they undermine UN and ILO labor rights, but they also undermine many previous EU standards that were already very low.

Collective labor, collective bargaining and trade union rights, co-determination and the right to elect employee representation - all are completely absent from the European Pillar, as are the rights to a decent pension, to free education and to secure housing.

Thus, zero-hour contracts are permitted in the EPSR: Work on demand; these labor contracts are without mandatory number of working hours: They can start from zero and change weekly. Workers are at the mercy of the employers. Such casual, mini- and part-time jobbers, zero hour contract workers and gig workers, however, have the "right" to take on second and third jobs on the side! That means hustle day and night, with changing low wages! (See Werner Rügemer: Imperium EU – Labour Injustice, Crisis, New Resistances. 320 pages, tredition 2021, also as e-Book)


EU state Lithuania: Low wages with third states

Amazon has shown it in the pandemic: For the many delivery services tens of thousands of new employees were fetched, almost migrants. They are not employed by Amazon, but by subcontractors. These are based in Poland, for example, or more recently in the small Baltic state of Lithuania. It is the most intensively digitized EU state. Not only is it a member of NATO, but NATO maintains an additional base here.

Lithuania is therefore considered a role model in the EU. But the national economy has been impoverished under the EU regime: Of the 3.7 million inhabitants, about 700,000 have emigrated permanently. The suicide rate is the highest in the EU. Lithuania has the lowest labor standards in the EU.

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This is why it is also home to Europe's largest trucking company. For years, not only Lithuanians have been employed as drivers here, but also, mostly through Polish agencies, mainly Ukrainians, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Belarusians and Russians. Overtime is not paid, breaks are not observed. Drivers usually cannot understand their work contracts, which they have signed. Drivers sleep in their trucks and vans and are monitored and directed on their journeys across Europe with the help of artificial intelligence: the European Commission subsidizes the development of the software needed for this.

Declassification of the middle class as well

The academic middle class is also being declassified. Since 2009, the Blue Card has been in force in the EU, following the example of the USA (Green Card): this is intended to recruit scientifically educated people, for a mostly temporary work stay.

In 2021, the EU has reformed the Blue Card, the standards have been lowered: 1. now no formal university education must be proven, it is enough to have "relevant work experience". 2. instead of a job offer from a company of 12 months as before, a job offer of 6 months is now sufficient. 3. the minimum salary can be 50 percent lower than before.

Ukraine: Destruction of Trade Unions

For several years, the EU has wanted to admit Ukraine as a member state. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost due to boycotts against Russia. The Ukrainian government under President Zelensky is acting particularly aggressively to impose even lower union and labor standards - even much lower than already in the EU - but this does not bother the U.S. and EU and their "human rights" propaganda.

The economic policies promoted by the US and the EU in favor of rich Olhave left Ukraine extremely impoverished. Long before the current war, about three million citizens emigrated to Russia because of unemployment, but also because of racial and linguistic discrimination.

The minimum wage is 1.21 euros per hour, as of 2022 - in 2017 it was only 65 Cent. That is why for years several million Ukrainians have been working as migrant employees in the surrounding EU states of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, where the minimum wages are three to four times higher. And now, because of the war, Ukrainian women are making it to the promised land of Germany without applying for asylum: that's where they've always wanted to go, here the minimum wage is seven times higher (9.82 euros) than in their homeland - and maybe they're already satisfied with half that.

And the EU and the pophets of "Western values" look on unmoved as the Ukrainian government under President Zelensky abolishes collective agreements altogether in principle with the 2019 labor law: employment contracts can be negotiated individually. Entrepreneurs do not need to justify dismissals. And that is why the government wants to expropriate the assets and houses of trade unions - trade unions are described as "remnants of Russian communism" and are, after all, no longer necessary under the new super-neoliberal practice anyway.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) have protested against this - but the European Commission is keeping quiet and wants to admit Ukraine to the EU.

Incidentally, Ukraine has also become the world's leading location for paid surrogacy. Because of poverty, many young women sell their bodies to carry babies for rich foreigners. Several dozen agencies and hospitals have turned this into an industry in its own right. The green and Christian feminists from the West do not care about this at all!

Boycott against Russia: EU trade unions weaken themselves

The big trade unions support the boycotts of the USA and the EU against Russia. This has been the case since the Maidan coup in 2014. And it is even more the case since the 2022 war. That is why the elementary violations of trade union and labor rights in Ukraine are not addressed at all.

That is why the big trade unions in the EU are weakening themselves and their members, including workforce in the rich EU countries themselves. Especially now, fierce struggles for wage increases would be necessary here, in view of the restraint during the pandemic policy, and especially now still in view of the enormous price increases for food, heating, gasoline, rents. Governments in, say, Germany, France, England, Italy are handing out a few euros as compensation, but that does not compensate for the loss of purchasing power. If in the future the cheap energy supplies from Russia are replaced by expensive fracking gas from the USA and Qatar and by expensive coal from Australia - then not only the private households will suffer even more than they already do. Jobs will also be cut, and it is already starting now.

It is true that the major trade unions in Germany protested on May 1 against the new arms subsidies for Ukraine and the additional armament of the German military - for example, the 100 billion special fund for the Bundeswehr.

But fighting power at the height of the times can only be won if the complicity with the government, with the EU and with the USA is finally ended!

But: Strikes at Amazon

In 2019, 23 unions from 19 countries, mainly from Europe but also from the USA, gathered for a first meeting in Brussels, organized by the young and internationally oriented union UNI Global Union, founded in 2000 with headquarters in Switzerland. The topic was the exploitative practices at Amazon: All movements at the workplace and during breaks are recorded by camera, microphone and scanner. With the help of artificial intelligence, the precarious workers are monitored, controlled and driven. The sickness rate is high, hence the fluctuation.

Since 2019, the activists have been coordinating international strikes, for example, on Black Fridays and Prime Days coordinated, it is fought locally for collective agreements. This continued during the pandemic, and it continues now during the war in Ukraine. In Germany, the trade union Verdi has taken over the coordination of activities.


But: Strikes at Gorillas

Amazon's leading shareholders are the big capital organizers BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street & Co, who are just as likely to push for low wages at Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook on behalf of their super-rich investors - the outsourced service companies are in India, Vietnam, China and the Philippines.

It's the same, only with different, unknown investors, at Gorillas, for example: this food delivery service was founded in Germany during the 2020 pandemic. But it is expanding throughout Europe and beyond. It is financed by aggressive hedge funds such as Coatue of New York and DST of Korea. Gorillas specifically seeks migrant workers from faraway countries. The promise: "10 minutes after ordering via app, the delivery will be in your home!" That's low paid hectic work in the urban jungle.

Gorilla bosses like Amazon's also hate unions and works councils. But something happened that the bosses didn't expect: In October 2021, several hundred bicycle couriers in Berlin took part in "wildcat" strikes: they were against the low hourly wage of 10.50 euros, delayed and incorrect pay slips, and accident-prone bicycles. 250 strikers were dismissed, a dozen of them went to the labor court. A kind of union was formed: Gorillas Workers Collective. The bosses went to court against it. The cases are still hanging. But the minimum wage was increased to 12 euros in December 2021. The fight goes on!

Luis Lazaro Tijerina //12:10am, Nov 6th '21


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