Saturday

22nd Jul 2017

German 'job dumping' project to spread

German trade unions are investigating the legal possibilities of fighting against internet companies that make the unemployed compete for jobs, while the most succesful website is set to be launched in three other languages as an international platform.

The trend of "job-dumping" has been introduced by several companies as a result of Germany's increasing unemployment. According to the most recent figures, more than 5.2 million Germans are out of work.

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The idea is to provide an online job auction for both businesses and freelance workers.

While employers introduce a "starting salary" they are willing to pay for a particular post, job-seekers can apply for the positions on offer.

If several people are interested and some of them are ready to take the job for less money, the salary starts falling.

These websites, such as Jobdumping.de, offer their readers a list of jobs - from office work or temporary jobs in restaurants and cafes to construction or technician positions.

The job-seeking users of the website can then see how long the various work ads have been displayed and by how much the original salary offer has dropped.

Fabian Löw, the founder of jobdumping.de, argues that the model is successful because "everybody can decide when, where and for how much they are willing to work".

Job or security?

However, trade unions are warning their members "not to take part in this system, as it does not provide any security for them", said Helmar Höhn, from the German Confederation of Trade Unions.

According to Mr Höhn, the union experts in Berlin have launched a legal proceeding to find out whether the job-dumping as advertised by the online companies is compatible with German labour laws.

"The problem is that the offers displayed on such websites are for freelance workers who are ready to do anything, and prefer flexibility over security".

There is no minimum wage in Germany, but salaries for different sectors and types of jobs are included in collective agreements and workers can take their employers to the courts if they are paid less than 70 per cent of wages set by these agreements.

The collective agreements also include a set of other measures, like social security provisions.

Some analysts argue that the lack of flexibility in such a labour law system plays a role in Germany's unemployment.

However, Mr Höhn argues that the social dumping as presented by the online job auctions will not help.

"There is a wide range in our collective agreements in terms of workers' pay. But some companies still insist that wages must fall if we want to fight unemployment.

If that was the case, then East Germany would be a paradise for jobs, as people are paid the least there. But the opposite is true: we have the lowest salaries in the regions with the highest unemployment - reaching 20 to 25 percent, as opposed to 7 to 8 percent in West Germany where the salaries are higher".

Moving on to the worldwide arena

This August, Fabian Löw is planning to introduce three other versions of the website in English, French and Spanish.

As the German project proved so successful, with 20,000 contracts with companies or self-employers since its launch in November last year, and 30,000 visits to the website a day, he believes the model will also work on an international basis.

"We have been contacted by companies from France, Britain, Malaysia, The US or Canada and we would like to provide a basis for people seeking or offering jobs worldwide".

As a result of the negative connotation of the "job-dumping" name, the website is set to be called "wage-auction" later on.

"In Germany, job-dumping has been particuarly politically sensitive. It is clear that Germans have been working much less for much higher salaries than people in other countries and their social security system is far too expensive.

Our idea is that if we all got a bit less, our products would be sold cheaper, and that would help our inner economy", Mr Löw told the EUobserver.

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