Misery is relative - Reports from temp workers in Germany, 2007

Misery is relative - Reports from temp workers in Germany, 2007

A series of reports and accounts on casualisation and temporary work in Germany in 2007 by Prol-Position.

There have been many formal or campaign-like answers to the problem of 'precarity' and casualisation. Instead of relating to everyday proletarian anger and its potential collective expressions, many initiatives merely focus on a spectacle or event to convey general demands. Demands for guaranteed income or global rights and the way they are put forward often end up as alternative background music for the debate of those in power. Employers, state representatives and unions in Germany are currently debating the introduction of a general minimum wage. They see the introduction as a policy to regulate the low wage sector. The following text puts these debates in contrast to the experiences of those who are to be regulated, the experiences of low wage workers.

The first part summarises the quantitative and legal development of temp work in Germany and the official debate on minimum income. In the second part temp workers report from situations in following companies in 2006: General Motors (Bochum), Nokia (Bochum), Flextronics (Paderborn), Gate Gourmet (Düsseldorf), City Palais Construction (Duisburg). At the end you can find some preliminary conclusions. The text focuses on the new composition of temp workers in multinational companies, where temp work is not only used in order to accelerate the re-structuring process, but has become an un-temporary part of production. The quantitative growth of temp work has resulted in a new composition, bringing together young and often migrant workers on the one hand, and older workers who were formerly employed as permanent workers in the industrial core sector on the other. This composition of people circulates within the main core industries, without being too afraid of being unemployed again, without any bigger hope for a potential permanent contract and therefore without major illusions.

[prol-position news #8 | 4/2007]