Erhöhung des monatlichen Mindestlohns von 400 auf 700 ägyptische Pfund

Increase of the minimum monthly wage from 400 to 700 Egyptian pounds (from 41 euros to 72 euros per month), which Egypt passed in 2011.

The French multinational Veolia has been suing Egypt for this since 2012. The case is still ongoing. It’s being heard before an arbitration tribunal at the World Bank. Veolia said increasing workers’ wages by 31 euros a month violated garbage collection agreements they made in a public-private partnership with the city of Alexandria.

(Air HƏH oong   dess   moan ott lichh en   MINNED est loans   fonn   FEAR hoon drett   ow! F   ZEE ben hoon drett   aigue IPPED tish ah   FOONED.)

Kernarbeitsnormen

Core labor norms.

In the discussions about finding resolutions to the different practices in the E.U. and U.S. for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership now being negotiated, the Süddeutsche Zeitung mentioned some differences in labor laws.

All 28 E.U. countries have ratified all eight of the International Labour Organization’s core labor norms, the S.Z. said.

  • “Coalition freedom,” freedom to associate, i.e. employees’ right to freely organize themselves, e.g. into unions.
  • The right to collectively negotiated wage agreements.
  • Transitional rules on forced labor.
  • The abolition of forced labor and compulsory labor in general, particularly in response to private enterprises’ purchasing or renting of convict labor.
  • Equal pay for equal work done by men and women.
  • A minimum age for entering into a work relationship.
  • A ban on discrimination at work on the basis of race, skin color, gender, religion, political opinion, national origin or social origin.
  • A ban on the “worst forms” of child labor.

The United States has only ratified two of these norms: the ban of the “worst forms” of child labor and the transitional rules on forced labor.

(CAIRN ah bites norman.)

Betriebsrat und Gesamtbetriebsrat befürworten

Advocating for a factory workers council and a corporation workers council.

Volkswagen’s organizational structure includes the legally-mandatory German committee of workers that is allowed a say in co-managing their workplace: the Betriebsrat. Recently the U.S.’s United Auto Workers union, quietly supported by VW management, tried to “unionize” a factory in Tennessee but was voted down by the workers themselves. U.S. media described it as a vote against union representation, while German media apparently initially reported that the workers had rejected forming a Betriebsrat. They followed up by saying the company had thought unionization was the logical first step for creating a works council at the Chattanooga factory but now they’ll just have to do it another way. “Our employees did not make a decision saying they’re against a Betriebsrat,” plant C.O.O. Frank Fischer reassured German reporters.

Had Chattanooga’s workers voted yes, they would have also gotten a seat on VW’s Gesamtbetriebsrat, apparently a workers’ council for the entire corporation consisting of employees representing VW’s ~105 locations around the world.

Since unionized U.S. auto manufacturing workers were made to seem responsible for the results of inferior car design decisions in the 1970’s, many potential employees appear to not support unions because they fear their own laziness. Fearing your own and others’ laziness seems to be part of the human condition in the U.S. but that fear isn’t as strong in Germany. It’s been interesting to me to see how Germans handle the balance of working hard, <40 hours/week, and then playing hard the rest of the time with a clear conscience, rather than coasting through a twilight lifetime of trying to live at the workplace without sufficient time off.

Süddeutsche.de and Spiegel.de both mentioned that the U.S. has a National Labor Relations Board that must still confirm the plant’s unionization vote and where objections can be filed. U.S. reporting mentioned that U.S. senators are protected under “freedom of opinion” from being sued for spreading disinformation.

(Bet REEBZ rott   oont   gez OMT bet REEBZ rott   beh FIR wort en.)

Betriebsrat

Workers’ council, a committee elected by employees that is involved in management of German workplaces.

Spiegel.de reported on 11 Nov 2013 that Microsoft was not renewing the leases for its offices in Hamburg, Böblingen and Bad Homburg, where ~500 of the company’s ~2700 Germany-based employees work. These workers were to be dispersed into telecommuting as “Homeoffice-Mitarbeiter.”

Labor advocates accused the company was doing this to outflank efforts by the Betriebsrat workers’ councils at those locations to negotiate resolutions to Microsoft’s overtime situation, with workers regularly putting in 50 to 60 hours per week in a country that usually has a work week <40 hours, said overtime “being neither off-celebrated [with time] nor offset [with money].” Celebration is a synonym for time spent not working, in German.

Labor advocates also alleged that Microsoft’s plans to rent conference rooms for future meetings with clients was an attempt to ensure there were never more than four of its employees gathered together in one place at a time because, they said, German law requires Betriebsrat representation for workplaces with five employees or more.

(Beh TREEBZ rah t.)

EUR 9.85, EUR 8.50

9.85 euros is what a liter of slowly warming beer cost at the 2013 Oktoberfest in Bavaria (6 million visitors were expected this year). 8.50 euros is the national statutory minimum wage the S.P.D. party promised to introduce in its recent election campaign. Looking on the bright side, this labor breakthrough is what the S.P.D. is now hoping to permanently achieve by agreeing to an identity-destroying grosse Koalition with the C.D.U./C.S.U.

Minimum wages in Germany are negotiated individually by each union though not for all job types. Notoriously, German hairdressers often work so many hours that their per-hour earnings are shockingly low. So do many cleaners, cooks, florists, healthcaregivers, waitstaff and especially also meatpacking industry workers whose jobs are subcontracted by subcontractors. ZDF heute journal reported on 17 Oct 2013 that 5 million Germans earn less than the proposed minimum wage, one in four workers in the former East Germany.

In the fight to prevent a national minimum wage, employers and their economists and their other academics and conservative politicians have made predictions about the damage a minimum wage would cause. In the fight to introduce a national minimum wage, proponents have discussed how it would ease strains on a welfare state’s social services, which have had to cover for employers of the working poor. In a country that keeps good records such as Germany it will be interesting to be able to measure the results against the predictions, and to compare them to results from other countries that introduced minimum wages such as Britain (with success) and Poland (results middling but the wage may have been set too low to do much, at 2 euros/hour). If it happens, the German minimum wage will be an ongoing experiment certainly subject to future negotiation and adjustments.

Werkverträge

“Work contracts” or “service contracts” that pay workers per item or opus rather than per hour, month or annum. Piecework contracts paying per product or service.

In the Bundesrat, Lower Saxony (S.P.D. + Green party), North Rhine-Westphalia (S.P.D. + Green party) and the Saarland (C.D.U. + S.P.D.) announced an initiative to investigate what they said is growing misuse of this type of labor contract, particularly in the meat packing industry. Such workers, estimated at >10,000 in Germany reported tagesschau.de, are said to be being lured in from less prosperous Eastern European countries, treated badly and paid “hunger wages” by German standards. Apparently current German regulations do not provide workers with this type of contract the same protections given to temp workers [Leiharbeiter], such as a guaranteed minimum wage for each hour worked.

Investigators’ complaints about poor treatment include “piecework at hunger wages [instead of the usual higher wages to compensate for piecework’s lack of benefits], inadequate health protection and opaque Werkvertrag contracts given to low-wage foreign workers.”

The governor of Lower Saxony, Stephan Weil (S.P.D.), deemed these contracts “an ulcer on the entire German labor market” and called for them to be banned, saying Werkvertrag workers also need representation in a company’s Betriebsrat, a workers’ committee involved in management. The proposed Bundesrat initiative would mandate that Betriebsrat worker committees must give their approval before Werkvertrag labor can be used in any German company.

Lower Saxony’s government said their state has already passed new rules about shared apartments the companies with questionable Werkvertrag conditions are also renting out to foreign pieceworkers. They now must provide at least 8 square meters per employee-tenant.

(VEH ACK feh TRAY geh.)

Diskutierbare Leitungsstrukturen

“Discussable management structures.” Shortly after the Offshore Leaks trove went public, in April 2013, Spiegel let go its two co-editors-in-chief, one for the excellent hourly-updated internet presence Spiegel-Online (who had started out as a journalist for the print edition) & one for the excellent weekly print edition (who started as a journalist at Spiegel TV), citing “differences of opinion on strategic orientation” and “effective immediately.” The new sole editor-in-chief is a former Spiegel-Online guy. Spiegel.de’s blog post about the shuffle indicated that the magazine’s top management structures are flexible when it mentioned that the duarchical online-and-print editorship eliminated in 2013 was established in a 2011 reorg.

Update on 26 Aug 2013: Complaints at der Spiegel because the tabloid Bild Zeitung’s deputy editor is going to become the new deputy editor at Spiegel, under new editor-in-chief Wolfgang Büchner. Büchner said the title is just a shoulder pat, that Nikolaus Blome won’t have as much influence on the news magazine as previous deputy editors, that he will in fact just run the Berlin branch office where Büchner is and not be at Hamburg headquarters, that he won’t be able to give instructions to department heads.

50.5% of Spiegel stock is owned by its journalists via Mitarbeiter KG [“Employees Inc.”], which read a statement at the (tough) meeting repeating its strong objections to Blome and to hiring Blome anyway after Mitarbeiter KG’s objection.

Süddeutsche.de wrote that the Mitarbeiter KG consortium of shareholder journalist employees’ co-management at Spiegel is based on arrangements made at the print half, which has falling circulation. The online half is apparently doing better, though it’s unclear whether SZ means that as measured by unique hits or by net profits, but its journalists find themselves in a “weaker position” than the print side’s journalists.

(Diss coo TEA ah bah rah   LIGHT oongs strrrooc TOUR en.)

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