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​​​20th February 2018

Poor Germans

A number of recent reports are highlighting the true nature of the European Union, which have not been widely reported in the mainstream press - we have all seen and heard about the widespread use and problems of "Zero Hour Contracts" and workers rights in Britain, but Britain is not the only country plagued by these and the widespread use of "Food Banks" - whatever the Labour party would have you believe.


But it may come as a surprise to learn that the "mighty" German economy is plagued with the same problems - which the "Liberal Left" in Britain, particularly Mr Corbyn, suggest is unique to Britain and blame it on the Conservative government, rather than the EU and the Labour Party. 


The German economy is the envy of Europe and unemployment rates are low - but people are queuing for work at Job Centres - "these are the German "Working Poor" - who have qualifications but the employers don't want to pay high wages", according to a report in Euronews "Germany's "working poor": employed but still in poverty" Euronews 26/07/2017


To explain what has taken place we have reviewed a number of reports and EU documents which provide the answers - in particular the damning report by Oliver Cyran in "The Nation" publication (www.thenation.com) see below.


Hartz IV Unemployment Law

"Hartz IV is the fourth and final part of a wide-ranging deregulation of the labor market known as Agenda 2010, which was implemented in Germany between 2003 and 2005 by the ruling Social Democratic Party–Greens coalition under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The law is named after its architect, Peter Hartz, a former personnel director at Volkswagen, and merges social-welfare benefits and benefits for those unemployed longer than a year into a single package, paid by the Job Centers.


The low rate—€409 a month in 2017 for a single person—is supposed to encourage the recipients, or “customers,” to find a job as quickly as possible, no matter how badly paid or poorly matched it is to their expectations or skills. Even worse, payment of the benefits is linked to one of the most coercive monitoring systems in the European Union." 


"The roots of this system go back to the 1999 manifesto “Europe:The Third Way/Die Neue Mitte,” signed by Schröder and his British counterpart, Tony Blair. In it, these “modern social democrats” proclaimed the need to “transform the safety net of entitlements into a springboard to personal responsibility,” claiming that “part-time work and low-paid work are better than no work because they ease the transition from unemployment to jobs.” In their view, a poor person working hard was better than a poor person out of work. This barroom philosophy was the ideological matrix for “what is probably the most important break in the history of the German welfare state since Bismarck,” according to Christoph Butterwegge, a political scientist at the University of Cologne."  Germany’s Working Poor The Germans now face the highest number of impoverished workers in a decade, thanks to the draconian Hartz IV unemployment law. By Olivier Cyran, September 6, 2017 (https://www.thenation.com/article/germanys-working-poor/)


The Resulting Regime
"Unemployment benefits were reduced in Germany in 2003 and temp agencies were given free reign." The key words were liberalisation and flexibility. As a result, unemployment rates dropped but the low-pay job sector grew, along with the relative poverty rate." Some other comments from the Euronews report include:-


  • "The number of over-65’s still working has more than doubled in the past decade, up from 5 to 11 percent. Most of them need to work to top up their meagre pensions."


  • "Germany is also a socially divided country: in this rich country, the working poor are a reality – they are people who work 40 to 50 hours a week but who cannot make a living.”


  • "It’s a problem that affects the building industry, hotel and catering, retail and the service sector, but also professions that require lengthy studies." 


  • "Low pensions - the result of all these freelance contracts, hourly invoices, not being paid over the summer and no stable income" 


  • "In Berlin there are far too few permanent jobs: it’s the worst situation in the whole of Germany,” says Adriana. “93 percent are freelancers and just seven percent permanent staff.”


​Food Banks in Germany
Germany's "Food Pantries" struggle to meet rising demand

The main summaries from the report by DW (http://www.dw.com/en/germanys-food-pantries-struggle-to-meet-rising-demand/a-37148492 are listed below:-

  • "German food banks are increasingly overstretched as demand rises. The number of pantries rose sharply after the Hartz IV reductions to unemployment benefit plans were implemented in 2005."


  • "Though food donations in mid-2016 rose by 11 percent, the number of recipients rose by 18 percent, Jochen Brühl, the chairman of the Berlin-based federation of German food banks, told DW."


  • "Patrons were mainly people on welfare and people who earn low wages, as well as retirees, single parents and their children - and, since late 2015, about 280,000 applicants for asylum. The outlets regularly support about 1.5 million people in Germany, according to the federation."


  • "The number of senior citizens waiting in line for bags full of staples, fruit and vegetables - donated by supermarkets and wholesalers - has doubled since 2007, Brühl said. He said that child poverty poses a problem, too. Children and senior citizens make up about half of the people whom food pantries serve. "The development is alarming," he said."


  • "​Over the years, food banks popped up all over Germany since 1993, when a group of Berlin volunteers started scouring supermarkets and restaurants for bruised fruit and dairy products that had reached their expiration dates, distributing the food to homeless people." 


  • "Food banks exist all over the world, and Germany has a comprehensive network, too The movement now has more than 900 food pantries, more than 2,000 distribution points, about 60,000 volunteers, and more than 2,000 dedicated vehicles, some of them refrigerated to transport perishable foods. Unlike in some other countries, German food pantries not only collect food, but also distribute it."


  • "Poverty is in fact on the rise in Germany, according to the government's fifth report on poverty and wealth. About 5.6 percent of the population are officially classified as poor, and about 20 percent of people are threatened by poverty."


  • "Volunteers in other countries have since modelled their food banks on the German concept, according to the federation, which offered the Feedback initiative in Cape Town, South Africa, as well as food pantries in Sydney, Vienna and Switzerland as examples."


Liberalisation and Flexibility

In the Euronews report - under "The Resulting Regime" in this article, reference was made  to "liberalisation and flexibility" in the labour market leading to zero hours contracts and poor pay for the workers and the reduction of responsibilities for companies and other employers leading to their increased profits - and where does this originate from? Just ask the EU via google and it will be defined for you - as below:- 


"Liberalisation - Some essential services — energy, telecommunications, transport, water and post — are still controlled by public authorities rather than private companies in some countries. EU governments can entrust specific public service functions to a company, conferring on it duties, specific rights and financial compensation. This must comply with state aid rules. When these services are liberalised — that is, opened up to competition between several companies — the Commission will see to it that the services remain available to all, even in parts of countries where they are not profitable. Moreover, it is essential to ensure that the liberalisation process is done in a way that does not give an unfair advantage to the old company that had the monopoly before the liberalisation." (http://ec.europa.eu/competition/general/liberalisation_en.html)


​This is the reason for the problems that the Member States are subjected to by their membership of the EU - it is called privatisation and it is the modus operandi of the EU's economic model - whereby all or most of the member state assets are placed into the hands of private companies - to ensure competition, reduced costs and increased profits for the operating companies. This could be a "blow" for Corbyn who wants everything "Nationalised" -  apart for one sentence in the document


"The Commission may agree to a company having a monopoly in special circumstances — for example where costly infrastructure is involved (‘natural monopolies’) or where it is important to guarantee a public service."  - I like part "The Commission may agree" - does that depend on whom is doing the lobbying? 


​This liberalisation is then enshrined in legislation under various articles: Article 3 (see below) , Article 106 (issues warnings about none compliance and exceptions), Article 254 (threatens any dissenters with ECJ action)  These Article are contained within the "Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)" and Article 4(3) of the "Treaty of the European Union (TEU)" issues more threats about Member States not assisting the EU in pursuit of its objectives and warns of any attempts to stand in the way of the EU's objectives - for example, the last sentence of Article 4(3) states:-


"The Member States shall facilitate the achievement of the Union's tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union's objectives."


Both of the above Treaties (TEU and TFEU) are part of the Lisbon Treaty (2007) and contain numerous threats of a similar ilk throughout the Treaties - is it any wonder why we were not allowed a Referendum of the Lisbon Treaty (2007)?


Article 3 TFEU - Lisbon Treaty (2007)
1. The Union shall have exclusive competence in the following areas: i
.e. EU is all powerful regarding the following
(a) customs union;

(b) the establishing of the competition rules necessary for the functioning of the internal market;
(c) monetary policy for the Member States whose currency is the euro;
(d) the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy;
(e) common commercial policy.

Once enshrined in EU law and applicable to specific areas such as the postal service, it would spread to almost every organisation and public utility  and infrastructure - and the EU's liberalisation policies and legislation are why the Conservative / LibDem coalition privatised our Royal Mail which also led to further widespread use of zero hours contracts and non-jobs (the so-called "gig" economy) - not to mention that it was sold off cheaply. It is also why such luminaries as Mr Branson would rather like to keep the UK in the EU.


Summary

The next time you hear the EU supporting political Left going on about poverty, zero hours contracts, food banks, low wages and loss of workers' rights etc., and then try to blame it all on the Conservatives - remind them that all of the problems that the UK faces are down to the controlling EU (see EU's Austerity not the Tories) and incompetent, anti-British Labour politicians (see "New Labour" and the EU) - point them to the plight of the German poor in the EU and its 860,000 homeless - and note that our NHS is certainly not safe as long as the UK stays in the EU.


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