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Germany – Alleged wage dumping for agency workers

15 November 2012

Agency workers employed as typists in Germany’s federal parliament often have to claim unemployment benefits because they do not earn enough to make a living, a report by public broadcaster ARD claimed this week.

The TV programme ‘Report Mainz’ investigated the story which, in one case, showed that a full-time agency worker made only three quarters of the minimum income.

The left-wing party Die Linke, which opposes temporary staffing, spoke of wage dumping in parliament. “I know of two cases who are agency workers having to claim additional benefits,” said party spokesperson, Sabine Zimmermann.

“Of course this is wage dumping because it would undermine collective agreements in the public sector. This is happening systematically in the German parliament,” she said.

When asked for a statement, the federal administration said they were unaware of such cases. Die Linke’s assertions may not be wholly reliable, given their stance on temporary staffing. Under German law, agency workers must be employed by the staffing agency which, of course, has to abide by any collective agreement in place relating to pay levels.

Nevertheless, labour market politician for the social democrats, Ottmar Schreiner, told the programme that third-party agreements are to blame.

“In the last years it has been common practice that in many areas within parliament employment relationships have been outsourced to subcontractors. The employees remained the same. The significant difference is that workers are paid much lower wages,” he said. 

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