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Germany – Union’s ‘shocking’ black book on staffing industry entangles auto industry

30 March 2012

One of Germany’s largest trade union, IG Metall, has published a ‘black book’ on temporary employment which reveals “grievances” in the temporary staffing industry and lists rankings of “temp quotas” in some the country’s biggest companies – including BMW, Porsche and Daimler.

The union wants stricter regulations on the use of temporary work and does not only demand equal pay for workers, it also wants to prohibit the dismissal of temporary workers on the expiry of their employment contracts.

The black book includes numerous first-hand reports of temporary workers who complain about being treated like “a piece of meat” and getting paid far lower salaries than permanent workers. This highlights the social insecurity that many temporary workers suffer from, forcing them increasingly to rely on unemployment benefits.

The unions have said that the black book was truly “shocking” which is why it is lobbying for better working conditions for temporary employees. The union questioned around 36,000 temporary employees during November 2011.

Also high on the union’s agenda is to reduce the amount of temporary employees in companies and it has compiled a ranking of firms that regularly use temporary employees. The “temp quota” in a subsidiary of Daimler AG, SteloTec, is particularly high and lies at 66.7% – this, the union insists, was far too much.

But other companies have also been accused of employing too few permanent workers and too many temporary ones, including BMW and Porsche. This comes at a time when BMW is still involved in a court case after a works council has refused to grant the renewal of temporary employment contracts.

Chairman of the trade union, Detlef Wetzel, said at a press conference that temporary employment was a “cheap strategy” used by companies. But federations of temporary employment agencies in the country have argued that the black book was too partial.

There are around 900,000 temporary workers in Germany, which overall make up less than 3% of the total workforce in the country. The Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen has recently warned unions and employer federations to come to an agreement over equal pay of temporary workers. 

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