Logo
Cover

Merkel, the occupier of the stake

The Agenda 2010 of the SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was tightened from 2005 under the CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel continued: Unregulated sell-off to capital organizers such as Blackstone, BlackRock & Co, even more human rights - violating work and pension poverty, also Europe-wide. This policy includes systemically more incitement against staged external enemies and even more rearmament. A new democratic opposition is needed, in Germany and throughout the EU. We are focusing here on the biggest taboo, i.e. the area on which there is almost no systemic public criticism in relation to Merkel and the EU: employment relations – also because they are the essential reason for political right-wing development.

Intensified continuation of Agenda 2010

The government formed in 1998 under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder/SPD and Vice Chancellor Josef Fischer/Grüne had two major programmes with its Agenda 2010:

These two elements of Agenda 2010 formed a logical unit: capitalists strengthen, employees weaken.

It remains underexposed to this day that the then opposition in the Bundestag from the CDU, CSU and FDP happily agreed to Agenda 2010, on the one hand. And that, on the other hand, from 2005 under the Permanent Chancellor Angela Merkel/CDU, the Agenda 2010 not only continued, but was further tightened in violation of human rights and accelerated by the Corona policy.

Merkel: Germany = largest low-wage sector in Europe:" We have created the largest low-wage sector in the EU, " Schröder boasted after his term in office. But under Merkel, the German low-wage sector became even larger, through new forms of precarious employment relationships and also through millions of temporary, semi-legal and illegal migrants.

The government"art" with the political actress and Christian-painted prayer sister Merkel (“We are all well”) was also to let this tightening and expansion remain almost invisible. Schröder boasted of the largest low-wage sector, Merkel made it even larger, quietly, effectively.

The" grasshoppers " really started under Merkel

Under Chancellor Helmut Kohl / CDU and Finance Minister Theodor Waigel/CSU, the company, land and real estate assets of the former GDR were sold off to Western investors. With Agenda 2010, the sale was extended to the territory of the old FRG.

First of all: fierce criticism of the “grasshopper"investors. Schröder / Fischer thus encouraged the entry of the new, deregulated capital players from the USA. At first these were the private equity investors like Blackstone (Black Stone, not yet BlackRock, the Black Rock), KKR, Carlyle, Texas Pacific Group, Permira, Fortress, Cerberus, Apax and about 50 others from New York and Houston, often through their branches in the City of London.

These aggressive investors bought rows of public housing companies from the federal government, the federal states, the municipalities, also factory apartments, also state-owned companies such as Duales System (Grüner Punkt) and Bundesdruckerei, bought above all hundreds of the best companies not listed on the stock exchange such as Nixdorf, Telenorma, Beru (spark plugs), Dynamit Nobel, Demag (cranes), Gerresheimer Glas, Celanese (chemistry), ATU (car workshops), MTU (engines), Grohe (bathroom fittings).

Hundreds of these companies were “restructured”: wages were frozen, employees were dismissed, works councils were kicked out, departments were sold or closed, real estate was sold and leased back expensively. The companies were burdened with debts, from which the investors could pay off profits.

Anti-Semitism accusation: Criticism falls silent. In the early years, leading business postillions such as Handelsblatt, Wirtschaftswoche, FAZ and ZEIT also criticised this brutal approach. But then the criticism stopped abruptly: When the SPD chairman Franz Müntefering denounced the investors from the USA as “locusts” who attack the country, eat it empty and then move on – the same media turned around, cheered by the FDP chairman Westerwelle, and denounced the critics as “anti-Semites”: Investors would be portrayed as animals, as with the Nazis. Müntefering and his SPD fell silent. Since then and until today, Blackstone & Co have been able to do their work in all mass media silence: the criticism was silent – and under Merkel from 2005 the “grasshoppers” only really attacked.

“How Merkel and Blackstone changing german capitalism”: Merkel went straight to the” grasshoppers " at the beginning. Just one example: In 2006, Merkel and her SPD finance minister Peer Steinbrück brought the largest private equity investor, Blackstone, into Deutsche Telekom AG as a new major shareholder. Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman was among those who felt deeply offended by the"locust" criticism. He should be reassured, was preferred to other investors. With his aggressive methods, he was supposed to make the privatised former state-owned company world-marketable.

To protect the SPD and the verdi trade union, which is strongly represented in Deutsche Telekom, Blackstone bought only 4.5 percent of the shares against the usual practices. But the Merkel government as a representative of the main shareholder state supported Blackstone under the hand. Blackstone had also bought the shares with the help of loans from Deutsche Bank – the German government took over the annual interest payment of 138 million from the Telekom treasury. The Bundestag and the public learned nothing. Against the helpless protest of verdi, Blackstone forced the dismissal of the previous board, 50,000 employees were outsourced to the new subsidiary T-Service by reducing wages and increasing working time by four hours a week – protest and strike of verdi had no chance against the Blackstone-Merkel-Steinbrück conspiracy.

The government took a similar approach in the other privatised companies in which the state still holds important shares, such as Deutsche Post DHL: The government explicitly leaves the management to other shareholders such as BlackRock & Co. The investors had free rein at Telekom, with the absence of politics and the leading media. The Financial Times, which was the only one to describe the background, took stock after two years:

“Private Equity: How Merkel and Blackstone changed German Capitalism.”

Merkel did not speak publicly about it, not even in the aftermath. All the more the" locusts " were able to access. By 2020, around 10,000 lucrative medium-sized companies had been bought up, “restructured” and exploited in Germany. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been cut, partly replaced by precarious working conditions. This recently concerned the well-known kitchen appliance manufacturer WMF and the Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (GfK).

Private equity investors buy rehabilitation clinics, retirement homes, laboratories. A particularly popular field was and is the health and care sector. The privatization of large hospitals and the formation of private chains such as Helios was accelerated under Merkel. Since 2019, the federal Government, and especially the NRW government with party friend Armin Laschet, have been following the Bertelsmann Foundation’s plan to close more hospitals.

Little is known about the unleashed activity of the “locusts” under the Merkel governments in the health and care sector below the large hospitals:

Precarious working conditions, work stress, under-provision of patients, advice from McKinsey and Union-busting law firms: this is standard practice in this milieu.

All Merkel-led governments with their health ministers Ulla Schmidt (SPD), Philipp Rösler and Daniel Bahr (both FDP), Hermann Gröhe and Jens Spahn (both CDU) as well as with their labor ministers Franz Müntefering and Olaf Scholz (both SPD), Franz-Josef Jung and Ursula von der Leyen (both CDU) and again from the SPD Andrea Nahles and Hubertus Heil-they all went along with it. And all these alleged friends of health and fair employment conditions remain silent about it to this day, covered by Merkel.

The big ones after the financial crisis: BlackRock & Co

The “grasshoppers” suffered from their high debts in the financial crisis from 2007, as did most German companies: this was the entry for the first league of new, unregulated investors: BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Capital, Norges&Co.

After the “grasshoppers”, they also bought into the large stock corporations, are present in all 30 DAX corporations and in several hundred other large companies. They are currently arranging, for example, the break-up of ThyssenKrupp and the merger of Bayer and Monsanto with the reduction of many thousands of jobs. These capital organizers, for example, are also shareholders in the five largest housing groups in Germany: Vonovia, Deutsche Wohnen, LEG, TAG and Grand City Properties.

BlackRock representatives met the finance ministers Schäuble and Scholz, the Foreign Minister Gabriel, and in between their state secretaries, accompanied by the top BlackRock lobbyist in Germany, Friedrich Merz. After the middle class, the top league of companies in Germany was also turned around – the accomplice Merkel is silent again.

“Employees are obliged to work independently”

In favor of these new owners, the Merkel governments tightened and expanded the four Hartz laws at the same time. In order to clarify their position, the Merkel-led majority in the Bundestag decided in 2017 on the legal recast of the employment contract:

“The employment contract obliges the employee in the service of another to perform instruction-bound, externally determined work in personal dependence. The right of instruction may relate to the content, execution, time and place of the activity.”

So it is now in the Civil Code BGB § 611a employment contract. Externally determined, personal dependence: this is the class-determined, subordinate position of the dependent employee, i.e. the great majority of the population. The Chancellor is nuzzling about this with phrases like" We are all fine". And so do the laws and practices that apply to employment relationships in Merkel’s country.

“Human rights are left ideology”

This applies, for example, to the current Supply Chain Act: According to UN guidelines, companies should be liable for human rights violations along their entire production and service chain. This applies in particular to the most serious violations such as child, slave and forced labor, withheld wages, fatal accidents at work, prevented minimum wages and collective bargaining, and also the withdrawal of land, forests and water.

But that is “left ideology”, according to Wolfgang Steiger, Secretary General of the CDU Economic Council in the entrepreneur leaflet FAZ. Result:

The term “supply chain” law is thus largely a deception, hides the supply chains in the EU anyway and gives global labor injustice a rightful face.

The ministers Heil (labour) and Müller (development) in a Merkel government have nothing to say when it comes down to it: The decisive factor is the CDU Economic Council with Vice President Friedrich Merz.

Divided Germany

The Merkel governments contributed to the fact that employees in the affiliated, bought-up former GDR maintain a lower status to this day. In the same way, the legal, social and financial class differences were deepened in the old Federal Republic.

East Germany: Breaking the constitution and low wages

According to the Unification Treaty of 1990, the Federal Republic must adopt a uniform Labour Code. There was one in the GDR (as in some other Western states), while in the FRG the labour rights are scattered among three dozen different laws (works councils, co – determination, dismissal, working hours, Hartz I-IV, minimum wage, disability…) and thus the knowledge of their rights is made more difficult for employees.

But even 31 years after unification, the Labor Code still does not exist, as does the referendum on a new constitution required by the Basic Law. Many, especially young workers, had to emigrate, and those who stayed are paid less, have even less company and union representation: no equality before the law. Under Merkel, who came from the GDR, East Germany was further shaped as an inner German modernized colony. Thus, the average hourly wage in East Germany is 6 euros lower than in West Germany, according to the"Unity" report 2021 of the Federal Government.

But this is not an East German peculiarity. Under Merkel, the majority of employees in West Germany were also downgraded legally and financially. For the sake of brevity, we outline a selection of laws, especially from recent years.

Health sector: reduction of jobs with underpayment

The corona policy has revealed the catastrophic, health - hostile situation in the health and care sector: In the Merkel era, privatizations were driven not only on motorways and previously public, also municipal transport (Passenger Transport Act 2011, due to EU regulations), but, as already described, also in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation clinics, laboratories and other medical services. Health Minister Jens Spahn was particularly eager here.

As a result, wages were often reduced by outsourcing as many medical services as possible to private subcontractors, such as for domestic transport, food preparation, cleaning, documentation, laundry, technology, supply and disposal. The government-affiliated Charité Hospital is particularly “exemplary” here. This was supported by increasing recruitment of migrants. At the same time, staff positions were reduced. Due to work stress, employees – and also patients (hundreds of thousands of infections every year due to hygiene deficiencies) are endangered in the health sector.

No equal treatment for temporary work

The EU Directive 104 from 2008 calls for equal pay for temporary workers and the permanent staff. The Merkel majority, however, tinkered with a loophole in the Employee Transfer Act (AÜG): Equal pay can be deviated from by collective agreement. Entrepreneurs and especially" Christian " trade unions take advantage of this joyfully, without comment from the merciless Christian Merkel. And because the temporary workers are not employed in the company, but at the temporary employment company, they are also not entitled to vote and can be elected to a works council.

Minimum wage: Too late, too low, often not paid

Under pressure from the business lobby, the Merkel governments delayed the legal minimum wage as long as possible. It has been in force since 2015, more late than in any of the more important EU countries. True, it is recognized as a success by the left and trade unions, which had long demanded it. But he still contributes to impoverishment,

One billion overtime hours per year: Not paid

in 2019, the European Court of Justice ruled in favor of the action of a Spanish trade union: all working hours must be validly recorded. The federal government with Economy Minister Altmaier / CDU and Labor Minister Heil/SPD want to prevent the execution in Germany. Thus, the government also allows, without comment and without legal regulation, that even one billion overtime hours per year are not paid. With digitization (Internet, smartphone) and home office, company management increases the constant accessibility even outside regular working hours. And accelerated by the corona policy, the number of additional, unrecorded and unpaid overtime is still increasing.

Hartz IV / Unemployment benefit II: Tougher sanctions, state abuse

The Merkel governments tightened the practices of Hartz IV to the detriment of the unemployed and in favor of entrepreneurs.

Tariff Unity law with decreasing tariff commitment

Due to increasing strikes by smaller and battle-loving unions such as the Union of Locomotive Drivers GdL and the pilots ' association Cockpit, the government majority passed the Collective Bargaining Act in 2015: In a company such as Deutsche Bahn, only the collective agreement concluded by the union with most members should apply. Overall, the federal government contributed to a further reduction in collective bargaining.

Whistleblower: No freedom of expression in the company

in 2014, Germany ratified the UN Convention to Combat Corruption, which includes the legal protection of corporate whistleblowers, i.e. whistleblowers who (want to) report violations of the law. The EU Whistleblower Directive of 2019 also calls for legal regulation. CDU / CSU and the business lobby have so far prevented this, they want to limit the protection at best to violations of EU law, but exclude the violation of German laws. The government sought argumentative help from Prof. Rieble from the private Center for Labor Law and Industrial Relations (ZAAR, financed by the Bavarian metal Employers) and from the leading Catholic labor lawyer, Prof. Gregor Thüsing, head of the independent labor law of the two (un)Christian major churches.

How necessary such a law is, showed recently the entrepreneurial law breaks with the exhaust gas fraud of the car companies, with the Cum-ex fraud of banks and law firms, with the financial service provider Wirecard.

2021: Lowest value for freedom of expression in Germany If in the meantime the majority of the Germans surveyed say: “With my opinion I prefer to hold back publicly” - for the companies this applies to 100 percent (the chairman of the Board of Management excepted). In the last Merkel year 2021, the lowest value of possible freedom of expression ever determined in the Federal Republic existed.

US-Import: Union Busting

With Blackstone, BlackRock & Co also came the representatives of the service industry of the Union Buster, which has been developed in the USA for over a hundred years: Highly professional, using legal and psychological methods, employees are intimidated, works councils are harassed and in some cases sued in years of proceedings. The industry includes lawyers, detective agencies and human resources specialists. Motto: “The best works council is the one that is never elected.”

Hogan Lovells, Allen & Overy, DLA Piper, Littler, Freshfields are the names of such law firms that have opened branches in Germany with large departments of labor law. They set the example for dozens of German imitators, whose better-known ones are CMS Hasche Sigle, Buse Heberer Fromm and Kliemt&Vollstädt. They are generally not present in the media, in contrast to the highly scandalized lone fighter Helmut Naujoks, who plays no role in the crowd.

Labor Laws During Corona Policy

The companies that do not have direct public traffic, i.e. about 95 percent, were exempted from the Infection Protection Act. The pandemic measures were subordinated and belatedly regulated only in August 2020 by an occupational health and Safety regulation of the Ministry of Labor. There are virtually no sanctions for breaches of protection obligations. If Amazon banned its employees from wearing an FFP2 mask then that was not sanctioned.

Works Councils-Modernization Act: No strengthening

SPD Labor Minister Heil had proposed a works council strengthening law. This became the Works Council Modernization Act in March 2021 under pressure from the CDU/CSU and the entrepreneur lobby. The employer is now solely responsible for data protection: the works council is disempowered. Works council meetings may now be held as a video or telephone conference. The initiators of a works council election who are particularly vulnerable to dismissal are now better protected, but must pay for the necessary notarial confirmation out of their own pocket. The demand to classify violations of the Works Constitution Act by the employer as an official offense (public prosecutor will be active even without criminal charges) was not included, not even the formation of special prosecutor’s offices. Thus, the offence of obstructing the Works Council (Section 119 of the Works Constitution Act) remains at the top of the judicially not prosecuted offences – just behind the sexual abuse by functionaries of the Christian churches.

Meat cutter: Occupational Health and Safety Control Act changes little

Through extreme contract work, with which migrant workers from impoverished EU states were exploited, Germany became the “pigsty of Europe” under Merkel, as even the entrepreneur postille Handelsblatt wrote in the Corona summer of 2020. Due to the sudden mass corona infection in the large slaughterhouses of the corporations Tönnies, Westfleisch, Vion and Danish Crown in 2020, the exploitation of migrant meat slayers, which has been known, promoted, tolerated for decades, became a scandal, for a short time.

That is why the Occupational Health and Safety Control Act has been in force since the beginning of 2021: the usual work contract and temporary work is prohibited. But as employees, migrants will continue to be sought who, as before, will be mostly working for a limited period of time, between six months and three years. You are now directly employed by Tönnies & Co, but are mediated by the previous subcontractors. Even if previous meat cutters are taken over, a six-month probationary period applies in the new employment contract. And there remains the double dependence, because Tönnies also organizes the accommodation, now also directly here.

And the regulation does not apply to the meat processing industry following meat cutting.

Seasonal work: asparagus cutters uninsured in the labor camp

As part of the corona policy, the Merkel government in March 2021 reorganized the seasonal work for asparagus and strawberry picking: The seasonal workers from Romania, Georgia, etc.may now be employed in the Corona year instead of the previous 70 now on up to 102 working days, that is up to four months of stay. The plantation owner does not need to pay social security to his seasonal workers, for example, contributions to health insurance. They may also enter from high-incidence countries, may be crammed into a room with up to 8 people and may only leave their work camp for work, but not otherwise. After that, they are allowed to return to their impoverished states by the EU, from whose run-down health systems the federal government has recruited the last desperate doctors and nurses as low-cost workers in German hospitals even in the Corona year and continues to woo them. This is Merkel’s “European (labour)solidarity”.

Corona policy: Working poor = working sick

In the corona year 2020, the meat cutters who were exploited with 16-hour shifts, unpaid overtime and housed in unsanitary mass accommodation, who worked at Tönnies & Co, showed how work stress and tight living conditions are causally related to susceptibility to infection. Studies on the increased vulnerability of the unemployed and closely housed migrants and welfare recipients associated with pre-existing conditions point in the same direction.

Under the Merkel labour ministers Olaf Scholz and Ursula von der Leyen, the supervision of the professional associations was reduced: occupational diseases are diagnosed as such even less than before, but are attributed to general medicine and the general health insurance funds. In all federal states, the trade supervisory authority-responsible for occupational health and safety – was dismantled. In the last decade, work-related mental illness has been particularly on the rise. There is a dark field here, in which the Federal Government and none of its health ministers had and has interest, on the contrary: to cover, to taboo.

The Corona-Dampfplauderer, the deputy and privatization defender Karl Lauterbach, who is otherwise little known for facts, has shown in lighter moments of his career as a physician why low-wage earners live 10 years shorter than high earners (he had not yet included the better earners, officials and deputies).

The woman in the Chancellery: working women are particularly ill: #Menot Merkel was praised for being the first woman in Germany to lead the CDU and the government. With other ascended women such as Christine Lagarde( International Monetary Fund, then ECB) and the daughter of US President Trump, Ivana Trump, she campaigned in elaborate staging for the rise of women around the world, was hailed as the “most powerful woman in the world”. Since woman/ # MeToo could have assumed: There comes out something for the majority of us women. The opposite is true: # MeNot. And in the CDU leadership-in the “sister"party CSU even more – the patriarchy grew with Merkel.

Par: A little, only in leadership positions and only for a few The Merkel governments made laws for women, but only for those who are already on top and should/want to get to the top. This is particularly necessary in Merkel-Germany anyway: in terms of women in leadership positions, Germany is in the bottom third of the EU comparison. But the two laws only apply to a few dozen women:

Since 2016, the law has applied to the equal participation of women and men in management positions in the private sector and in the public sector: the quota for women on the Supervisory Boards should be at least 30 percent. However, the law only applies to 105 companies. And even in these, hardly anything has yet been achieved.

in 2021, the Second Management Positions Act was passed: At least one woman should also be on a three-member board of directors of listed and co-determined companies with more than 2,000 employees. In addition, such women are allowed to take a baby break after the birth of a child. However, the law only applies to 66 companies. These are also so few companies because the federal government allows more and more companies to evade co-determination with the help of loopholes in the law (reorganization to S.E., founding of subsidiaries).

MeNot: Low wages for the majority

On the other hand, the laws that apply in general promoted women’s poverty:

Minimum wage: exceptions for women At the (late) introduction of the minimum wage in Germany in 2015, the Merkel government admitted to the lobby of private newspaper publishers: the minimum wage of 8.50 euros does not apply to newspaper publishers, but 6.37 euros are enough. This exception was valid until 2018 and mainly concerned women, the majority of whom (must) do these nightly jobs.

German women: At the back of the EU Under Merkel, the part-time, temporary and 450-euro jobs were expanded: mostly for women. Across the EU, women earn less than men. But in Germany, the human right of equal pay for women is violated in a particularly long-term way. In Germany, the hourly wage for women is on average 20.1 percent lower than for men. This puts women in the 25th position in the rich chancellor’s country compared to the 27 EU states, only in Austria and Estonia it is even worse.

DRK sisters: Federal Government downgrades them 25,000 Nurses work permanently in hospitals as members of the German Red Cross (DRK), but are not considered normal employees, but have an even lower status. Some sisters, with the help of the verdi trade union, had sued for normal status. The Federal Labour Court BAG confirmed this. But the federal government with Employment Minister Andrea Nahles/SPD pushed through a special regulation together with the DRK: The sisters continue to retain the special employment status as DRK members. Therefore, the Employee Transfer Act and the time limit for temporary agency work prescribed therein to a maximum of 18 months do not apply to you.

About 600,000 illegals in home care About 700,000 women from Eastern and Southeastern Europe work in Germany in home care – about 600,000 of them illegally: In Merkel’s country, the current labor laws are broken permanently, en masse and systemically, such as those on the minimum wage, on working hours (rest periods), on continued payment of wages in the event of illness, on vacation. In particular, Polish agencies provide women from their own country, from Ukraine, from Croatia, North Macedonia, Kosovo, etc., with double standards and, if necessary, with forged documents. The agencies advertise to the foster families with round-the-clock"24 – hour care” throughout the week – one of the agencies is called Prokura24-while in the employment contracts with the nurses only 6 or 8 hours for five days a week.

The federal government washes its hands in innocence and deliberately cultivated ignorance. Only the Federal Labor Court (BAG) has by the judgment of 24.6.2021 in favor of a Bulgarian plaintiff, supported by the DGB, helped this non-scandal to the greater public. The applicant had a contract with 30 hours per week, but also had to stay in readiness at night and received 950 euros net per month. Consequences? In the Merkel Republic, the solution would be the same as in the case of prostitutes: evasion into complete illegality, into the black market. By the way: With this lawless and exploitative practice, the Merkel governments make it clear: The illusion for the German middle class to live in a “rich country” in which “everyone is well” is based on the nationalist impoverishment of foreign women and other states.

Illegal cleaning in private households: here, too, Germany leads The OECD stated in 2021: Germany leads by a large margin in domestic undeclared work (care not included here). Cleaning, gardening, babysitting and picking up children at kindergarten, repairs-75 percent of these activities are paid (low). However, they are not notified, as little as in any other of the states examined. When cleaning, the percentage goes even to 90 percent. Although this would also have to be done with 450-euro jobs, with extremely low taxes-no, especially professionally aspiring Germans would rather save the few euros, at the expense of women who remain unprotected and in the dark at the very bottom. Countermeasures, such as social vouchers as in Sweden, Belgium and France – that has not occurred to the Merkel governments.

Merkel-Germany: “The Brothel of Europe” in 2002, the Prostitution Act recognised sex work as work and liberalised it. But the majority of sex workers (including sex workers) remained in illegality: human trafficking, mafia structures, forced prostitution with mostly poor young women from poor new EU states such as Romania, Bulgaria, Kosovo, increasingly also with refugees. Germany developed into the central location of (cheap)prostitution in Europe.

The Merkel governments let this go. in 2017, the Prostitute Protection Law was passed listlessly: brothels must be approved, prostitutes must register: all practically without effect. Before the pandemic, 40,000 prostitutes were registered – in the illegal dark world, at least half a million people continued to engage in prostitution. Of course, brothel and other prostitution operators also received corona aid: Systemically important in Merkel Germany.

Pay Transparency Act: Failed The Pay Transparency Act of 2017 is the only law that should specifically promote employed women, namely for equal pay. But the law excludes from the outset two-thirds of employed women, by fixing on large companies: 3.5 million companies are excluded.

And women themselves must name comparable jobs for men, a sufficient number (one is not enough), and demand information from management. However, such information is often given only hesitantly or not at all. And the entrepreneurs themselves do not need to take action. The law is considered a failure.

EU Labor Law, US Law Merkel’s arrival as Chancellor in 2005 coincided with the eastward expansion of the EU, in which the leading companies from Germany – car, pharmaceuticals, logistics, supermarkets, banks – also played and are playing a leading role with government protection. Oligarchic, nationalist, right-wing radical governments such as in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and the Baltic states are also supported by the Federal Government through the EU (subsidies) if they keep wages, labor standards and trade unions as low as possible in violation of human rights.

EU: Hodgepodge of the lowest labour standards The EU has issued many dozens of directives on labour law, which are transposed into national law by the member states. The best known are the Posting and Services Directives. What they all have in common is that collective rights are not promoted, in violation of human rights, it is always only about individual rights, and also low standards. A formal exception is the European Works Council, whose rights, however, are not comparable with the – at least theoretical – rights under the German Works Constitution Act.

Under Merkel protection: North Macedonia as the “Bangladesh of Europe” Merkel is regarded as a leader of the EU. We take the Western Balkans Conference (also called the “Berlin Process”) as an example. It was initiated personally by Merkel in 2014: the states of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and North Macedonia, which had been expelled from Yugoslavia, are to be “stabilised” and gradually led into the EU. The EU had impoverished these states. But when the People’s Republic of China included her in the New Silk Road with the construction of infrastructure in 2012, Merkel became active and saw the need for action. In July 2021, she celebrated her last Western Balkans Conference with her usual, slightly warning satisfaction (“there is still a lot to do, but we are on the right track”).

Example North Macedonia: In 2019, NATO membership was first enforced. In all ex-socialist states, it always stood before EU membership. Here, for example, German and other Western companies are expanding the poor NATO country into the “Bangladesh of Europe”, also with the help of EU subsidies. Unemployment is officially at 26 percent, so a minimum wage of 283 euros gross can be extorted from employees. Trade unions are excluded.

New companies get ten years of tax exemption and EU subsidies. German automotive suppliers such as Marquardt, Schmitz Cargobull and Lenze Antriebstechnik use this. This and the low-wage industry applies above all to the 1,100 textile companies that have their low-wage workers toil for the luxury brands Gucci, Versace, Jack&Jones, La Salle, Seidensticker, BOSS and Escada. Transports to Germany are handled by Deutsche Post DHL, Sixt, DB Schenker: In all media-political silence, the “Bangladesh of Europe"was created here with Merkel protection.

Zero Hour Contract The last, summary EU directive on labour law is based on the “European Pillar of Social Rights” (ESSR), which was adopted in 2017. In it, the worst regulations from Germany and other EU states are summarized as permissible. This also includes the Zero Hour Contract, which was taken over from the former member Great Britain: employment contract without a certain number of hours, which can sometimes be zero. The German Government reaffirmed its support for the ESSR at the EU Social Summit in Portugal on 7-8 May 2021.

German Government: Using EU rules, but also undermining them Important EU countries such as France, Italy, Belgium and Italy have adopted regulations from the Agenda 2010, which was tightened under Merkel. At the same time, Merkel Germany takes a leading position when it comes to undermining, delaying or not implementing EU labour law directives as soon as they contain slight improvements. This applies, for example, to equal pay for temporary work, the protection of whistleblowers and the implementation of the ECJ ruling that all hours worked, including overtime, must be legally documented.

Thousands of truck drivers fall asleep at the wheel According to surveys by the European Transport Workers ' Federation ETF, one in three truck drivers fell asleep behind the wheel at least once in 2020. Long and unpredictable working hours, low wages, poorly maintained vehicles, poor sleeping and rest facilities - this is how working conditions can be summarized, in Germany and in the EU, uncontested by the Federal Government.

US enforces breach of German labor law If the US demands it, the federal government breaks German labor law. At the request of US authorities, Commerzbank – the main shareholder: the State of Germany – dismissed four employees in 2015: they had processed international payments for Iran’s state-owned shipping company. This was legal under German and EU law. But Commerzbank pulled through the layoffs. The dismissed head of department brought an action against it, although he won his action before the Landesarbeitsgericht Hessen. But Commerzbank caught up with the US Union-busting law firm Allen & Overy and went to the Federal Labor Court against the ruling.

The bank then withdrew the lawsuit, but held on to the dismissal and paid a settlement of an unknown amount. The two state representatives on the Bank’s Supervisory Board appointed by Federal Finance Minister Schäuble agreed. In addition, the bank paid a fine of $ 1.45 million and was monitored for years by US officials. They had access to all internal documents to check that no more payments were made to Iran – and Commerzbank itself paid the high fees of the supervisors. The same applies to the monitoring paid by VW and Daimler in Germany by US agents.

Multifaceted growing pension poverty With falling wages, pensions also fell in the Merkel era. The net standard pension before tax and after 45 years of insurance was still 55 percent of the average annual wage in 1990, the year of German unification. In the 15 years to 2005, the standard pension fell by 2.4 percent. But in the 15 Merkel years until 2020, it fell twice, by 4.7 percent, and would fall again at an accelerated rate of 4.9 percent by 2030, according to the government’s pension insurance report.

Pensions for employees are falling in many ways In addition to the controlled low wages, direct measures or omitted measures of the government were added, for example:

The company pension only plays a role for regular employees in large companies. More than three million medium-sized and small businesses are not covered at all. And company pensions do not play a role for the growing number of temporary and part-time employees, loan and work contract employees, as well as for gig and crowdworkers and sham self - employed people who work in subcontractor chains and receive orders with the digitization of platform companies, such as Uber/Taxi, Lieferando, WeWork and the delivery services increased with the corona policy such as Flaschenpost, gorillas, Flink and the suppliers of electric scooters of the companies Lime, Bird, Bolt&Co.

The Riester pension has failed. The Merkel government passed a reform law in 2014-without effect. Private insurers such as Allianz AG were able to assert their interests.

With the Employment Minister Franz Müntefering / SPD, the retirement age was increased from 65 to 67 years in 2007, which will be implemented gradually until 2030. In many cases, this means a reduction in the pension, because many people retire earlier and have to accept discounts because of unemployment, illness, burn out.

Under the Employment Minister Ursula von der Leyen / CDU, the pension contribution paid by the job centers for the unemployed was deleted. This contributes to the reduction of the pension for those who were briefly or permanently unemployed.

Disability pension: More and more often applied for, more and more often rejected Because of various illnesses, employees can sometimes receive a disability pension long before their regular retirement. In 2020, their number was 1.6 million.

The full disability pension is between 492 and for a few up to a maximum of about 1,000 euros. The 87,000 partial pensions of this type are even lower. The access age is on average 52.7 years (as of 2019): So these people have to get by with these low pensions for more than a decade until their regular retirement. Your regular pension after that will also be low.

Since the pension contribution for ALG II recipients was deleted under Minister of Labour von der Leyen in 2011, fewer and fewer actually affected persons can apply for the disability pension, because the entry requirement to have previously paid into the pension fund has been eliminated.

In the Merkel era, the number of pensioners with reduced earnings remained the same at around 1.6 million. But first, entry requirements have been tightened. Secondly, more and more applications are sometimes delayed for several years (“war of experts”). Thirdly, half of the final applications are rejected. That looked like this for 2019:

There were 433,709 applications for full disability pension.

Of these, 279,977 were processed, of which 142,000 were rejected, half.

Pension poverty of women The division between rich and poor was also promoted in pensions. This is especially true for women’s pension poverty: with low pensions between 300 and 900 euros per month, women absolutely dominate, with 900 to 1200 euros they have almost reached parity with men. But at the monthly pension level of 1,200 or more, women are less and less represented and at 1,800 or more pension levels, they are in a small minority with a tenth of men-and at the already very rare pensions of 2,100 to 2,500 euros, women have practically disappeared.

Basic pension: An alms The new basic pension will apply from 2021. It is supposed to improve the worst low pensions. On average, a supplement of 80 euros is to come out for previous and new pensioners – the CDU business lobby had achieved that the originally planned 100 euros will be reduced by 20 euros. And for this alms, the hurdles are high: at least 33 years of contributions are a prerequisite. An estimated 1.7 million of the poorest pensioners would benefit from this-a farce, even if 80 euros are important for those affected because of the existential hardship.

Further pension injustice: Privilege of civil servants ' pensions With their taxes, employees continue to pay the pensions of civil servants who do not pay into a pension fund and whose retirement income is, firstly, significantly higher (on average 2,793 euros/month), secondly, further increased by state aid and, thirdly, paid on average well over a decade longer, also taking into account the often early retirement from the age of 60.

If the approximately 65 billion euros that the state currently pays annually for civil servants ‘pensions (a publicly unknown billion sum is added to” aid”) were paid into the treasury of the statutory pension and the civil servants like other employees – by the way: do not forget the Members of Parliament! - would also pay into the pension insurance during their working life, then – in addition to the abolition of the most diverse forms of precarious work – the pension problem would be solved first.

Work-poverty, sick through work, pensions-poverty

Highest level in the history of the Federal Republic In 2020, the highest level of poverty ever measured in the Federal Republic of Germany was recorded. Many factors have not yet been taken into account, such as the up to 50 percent increase in the burden on labor income and pensions from rents and ancillary rental costs. In the future, additional CO2 reduction costs will be passed on to employees. Work poverty, sick through work, pension poverty.

New democratic opposition: In Germany, in the EU The driving force behind this policy of injustice was the national and international business lobby. The national lobby in Germany consisted of the CDU Economic Council, then BDI, BDA and the leading media. The international lobby of Blackstone, BlackRock & Co also ran through the increasing number of consultants who, like McKinsey, Accenture and Freshfields, not only represented their private clients, but also received even more multiple and permanent state contracts under Merkel than under Schröder/Fischer.

in 2000, the Federal Association of German Industry (BDI) and the Federal Association of German Employers (BDA) founded the Initiative Neue Soziale Marktwirtschaft (INSM) through their subsidiary Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft (IW): The initiative is financed with a million-euro budget by the employers ' association Gesamtmetall (mainly companies in the automotive, aerospace, steel and mechanical engineering industries). in 2003, Merkel, as CDU chairwoman, had the program “New Social Market Economy” written-by Jürgen Kluge, the then head of the then largest management consulting group McKinsey. “New” - this raises hope for better things, but is deliberately inaccurate, leaves everything open, seemingly, but lets the corporations in to the front door and above all to the back door, gladly also into the Federal Chancellery.

Merkel: Permanent violation of the Constitution This also means: The companies and consultants do a lot of things just like that, do not necessarily ask the federal government or the financial supervisory authority or the cartel office or Merkel, do not pay the minimum wage and overtime, exploit migrants even harder, form new cartels, organize tax evasion, bypass EU directives. The entrepreneurs and their consultants know: We are allowed to do this, the Merkel says nothing. But this also means: Chancellor Merkel commits permanent constitutional violation, because 1.she does not perceive her directive competence, 2. Economy does not, as the Basic Law stipulates in Article 14, “at the same time serve the well-being of the general public”, 3. The Federal Chancellor tolerates the nationwide permanent violation of human rights.

The Federal Chancellery doubled its staff under Merkel and was expanded as a subsidiary government. This includes, for example, the nudging department: following the example of US President Obama, Merkel set up the department in the Chancellery in 2014 according to the findings of US behavioral economists Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein: Nudging = pushing = apparently imperceptibly governing. Repeatedly address “difficulties”, but for the future carefully and kindly provide solutions" and “happiness” in prospect. The book by Thaler / Sunstein already includes health policy: Nudge – Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness (2008).

The corona policy of the Merkel government was also designed or staged even more than before by consulting companies commissioned for several years, such as Scholz&Friends. This direct connection between capital and politics, which grew under Merkel, was also expressed in the corrupt mask deals of CDU/CSU deputies.

In addition, there is the complicity of the SPD with its labor and foreign ministers. With the Corona policy, the two dying “people’s"parties could still keep themselves afloat with each other. At the same time as the last “Christian” party in Europe, state – linked Christianity is wavering in the swamp of its abuse scandals-but at the same time it is an important support for the Merkel – led government in shaping working conditions-as was recently shown in the prevention of better wages for the nurses by Caritas.

Democratic reflection The balance sheet of the Merkel era outlined here, limited to employment relationships and pensions, does not want to develop a counter-strategy. This should also include the evaluation of the weakened and helpless trade unions and also of the party Die LINKE, which have little idea of current capitalism, neither of capital nor of the way of governing.

The sketch is intended merely to provide some arguments from the section of the employment relationships for the fact that a democratic reconsideration is also necessary for this central, particularly taboo area discussed here, in Germany as well as in the EU-internationally anyway.