How Germany sees us

I was pleased that GMB Wiltshire and Swindon branch was able to assist German TV in making this documentary about zero hour contracts. Contracts that, as the programme explains, would be unlawful in the more successful German economy.

Watch it here:

Der Wahlkampf in Großbritannien ist in vollem Gange, Anfang Mai wird ein neues Parlament gewählt. Die konservativen Tories verweisen auf das steigende Bruttoinlandsprodukt sowie sinkende Arbeitslosigkeit und versprechen weiteres Wachstum. Ein Grund für den Aufschwung ist die Flexibilität des Arbeitsmarktes.

Diese hat aber auch ihre Schattenseiten. Mit “Null-Stunden”-Verträgen kann eine Firma Personal einstellen, ohne feste Arbeitszeiten oder Lohn zu garantieren. Die Arbeitnehmer stehen auf Abruf bereit und sollen nur erscheinen, wenn sie gebraucht werden. Und nur dann gibt es auch Geld. Fast 700.000 solcher Vertrags-Arbeiter gibt es zurzeit, die meisten kaum in der Lage den Alltag zu bestreiten. Sozialverbände warnen vor einer wachsenden Kluft zwischen Arm und Reich und einer Zunahme prekärer Existenzen in den unteren Bevölkerungsschichten.

Autorin: Julie Kurz

7 comments on “How Germany sees us

  1. Google Translate says:

    The election campaign in the UK is in full swing, early May is elected a new parliament. The Tories point to the higher gross domestic product, as well as falling unemployment and promise further growth. One reason for the boom is the flexibility of the labor market.

    However, this also has its drawbacks. With “zero-hour” contracts a company can hire staff without guaranteeing fixed working hours or wages. The workers are on call and will appear only when they are needed. And only then there is also money. Nearly 700,000 of such contract workers there at the time, the most difficult to deny able to everyday life. Social organizations warn of a growing gap between rich and poor and an increase in precarious existences in the lower classes.

    Which is what I thought it said! I’m struggling with a bit of the German, though –

    “Fast 700.000 solcher Vertrags-Arbeiter gibt es zurzeit, die meisten kaum in der Lage den Alltag zu bestreiten”

    “…most of whom are hardly to be denied everyday in the place”?

  2. Andy Newman on said:

    Phil: “Fast 700.000 solcher Vertrags-Arbeiter gibt es zurzeit, die meisten kaum in der Lage den Alltag zu bestreiten”

    There are currently almost 700000 contract workers, most of whom are hardly in the position to pay for their daily needs

  3. Andy Newman on said:

    I missed a bit. “There are currently 700000 of such contract workers ……”

  4. DSCHBACH on said:


    Probably one of the worst aspects of zero hours work is being utterly demoralised and being made to feel greedy by the employer when you are asking for enough hours just to make ends meet. We need unions more than ever for collective bargaining, let alone a total shift away from this corpulent capitalist paradigm, and simply an end to this supply-side economics that has not only buggered up the labour market, but also housing, education and the NHS. Ed’s promise to at least regulate zero hours is at least a step in the right direction.

    I hate the uncertainty that comes with the job I’m at, only knowing at about 6AM if I have to be ready to go in half an hour. Us 20-30 somethings were sold a big fat lie.

  5. dagmar on said:

    Despite them being illegal, that doesn’t mean that zero-hour contracts don’t exist in Germany. In some sectors, e.g. retail, hospitality etc., they are fairly common – especially amongst those enrolled at university (for whom employers don’t pay social insurance or healthcare contributions).

    I deliberately didn’t type “students” but used a more long-winded term as many such “students” are only enrolled in higher education to hold onto their jobs, as a way of avoiding the degrading social security system known as “Hartz IV” (though probably nowhere near as degrading as JSA in Britain).