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Germany — Minister attacks university hospital over in-house temporary employment agency

24 February 2010

The Minister for Employment of Germany's most populated federal state North Rhine-Westphalia, Karl-Josef Laumann, has attacked university hospital Essen over the use of an in-house temporary staffing agency where temporary employees are paid less than permanent staff at the hospital, WAZ reports.

The Minister sees the use of an in-house temporary employment agency "as a big problem". He told the hospital's Works Council "permanent jobs are being replaced on a long-term basis. Temporary employees should be used to cover peaks only."

The event should be seen in the context of the recent so-called Schlecker scandal where Europe's largest drug store chain had replaced permanent staff with temporary employees from a closely linked temporary employment agency in order to reduce pay considerably. Schlecker had to bow to pressure from the highest political echelons in the country and has promised to discontinue the practice.

The university hospital founded temporary staffing agency Personalservice GmbH (PSG) as a 100% owned subsidiary in 2005 in order to "secure employment and quality", the hospital's HR Director told WAZ. "At the moment only 245 temporary employees work for PSG compared to 5,500 employees at the university hospital."

Hospital spokesman Burkhard Buescher said "we have not sacked permanent staff from the university hospital [in order to re-employ them as temporary employees under worse conditions]. To compare us to Schlecker is untenable. Many of the PSG employees were long-term unemployed, have low qualifications and would not stand a chance in the labour market."

Alexandra Willer, Head of the Works Council of the university hospital, said "our colleagues from PSG are all covering permanent positions."

Willer sees the current interest from politicians of all parties with cynicism. She said "we have had these conditions at what is a public sector employer for years. There is a good portion of hypocrisy in all this."

To see a list of in-house temporary employment agencies in Germany please click here



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