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Germany — Discussion on labour market legislation continues

06 October 2009

Hans-Peter Keitel, the newly appointed President of the Association of German Industry (BDI) told Tagesspiegel that the very strict legislation on job protection in Germany hurts mainly smaller and medium-sized companies.

"I do understand that job protection legislation is a problem for companies of skilled craftsmen for example. These are mainly smaller companies. Larger firms also see it as a problem but less so because they have other tools at their disposal such as temporary employees and contract workers," Herr Keitel said.


"It is also a mistake [for the newly elected government] to try and legislate on minimum wages. The problem with minimum wages is the level at which they are set. If the level is too high you lose jobs, if it is too low it is completely pointless anyway. Unions and employer organisations are perfectly capable to agree on sensible wages without government interference."

The BDI President is proud of the way his member firms have handled the reduced working hours scheme. He said, "contrary to short-term business logic companies are spending serious money in order to keep their core staff. I don't think that we will have mass redundancies in Germany now. Quite the opposite! Very soon companies will have a shortage of qualified workers."

On the question of how he finds his new job Keitel said, "A serious challenge. I had imagined that it would be easier. Unfortunately, the BDI does not have an instructions handbook where you can look up under the letter D for disaster."

 

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