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The German Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) has been lobbying against temporary employment all week, raising questions as to whether temporary staffing has failed as an employment mechanism, writes Deutsche Welle.
Temporary employment in Germany has been on the rise in the last decade with around 900,000 temporary workers being employed by 17,500 temporary employment agencies. The former Government under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder paved the way for this as temporary staffing has now become an integral part of the German labour market.
Mr Schröder first suggested that the relaxation of the labour market through an increase in temporary jobs would not only make it more flexible but could also help companies by covering for peak periods in business activities. He was also one of the first to suggest that temporary employment could be a springboard into permanent employment, an option that has been adopted by the current Government under Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Contract work is a very important tool for the labor market,” said Marcel Speker, spokesperson for the Association of German Temporary Employment Agencies (iGZ) to the paper. “Our surveys show that around one-third of temporary employees end up landing a normal job.”
On the other hand, Florian Lehmer, of the Nuremberg Institute for Employment Research argues that temporary employment might not be such a great thing.
“Of course temporary employment helps the unemployed get their foot in the door, but it doesn't get them very far. Only very few make a substantial leap after that,” he said.
“It's plausible that 30% of all contract labourers get a job outside of the sector following their temporary employment. But when you look at the real 'problem groups' – the long-term unemployed – which is what we do, then you find seven percent.”
Unions have been particularly critical about temporary employment and were widely on strike over the issue this week.
“We are unfortunately far away from the envisaged principle of equal treatment, laid down by law, that says the temporarily employed and regular personnel should enjoy the same labor conditions in a workplace,” said Alexander Herzog-Stein, of the Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI).