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Germany — Minister threatens to tighten employment legislation

19 February 2010

The so-called Schlecker scandal, which recently involved Europe's largest drugstore chain Schlecker sacking large numbers of employees in order to re-employ them via temporary employment agency Meniar at much reduced wages, continues to stir emotions amongst top German politicians.

Meniar appears to be a one-client agency and has close links with Schlecker. Whilst the drugstore chain has officially announced that it will no longer employ staff via Meniar, the abuse of a loophole in German labour legislation continues to reverberate in the market.

Labour Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, told Superillu Magazine "I am extremely annoyed that loopholes in the legislation were shamelessly abused. I hope that the social partners (employer organisations and unions) will manage to sort this situation out during the first half of the year."

The Minister explains why German employment legislation was liberalised. She said "the aim at the time was to give people new opportunities to get jobs. We have achieved this: two thirds of temporary employees were unemployed before starting their temporary jobs, one in ten never had a job before in their lives."

"On the other hand, we cannot allow the replacing of permanent staff with temporary employees simply in order to pay them less for the same work."

Von der Leyen said that she is still in talks with employer organisations and unions and that she will make proposals on the matter in the next few weeks. She went on to say [if employers and unions cannot sort this out] the legislator will have to get involved.



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