GlobalPost, May 4, 2012
BERLIN — Germany’s engineering sector has been hit by an industrial action this week. That’s a sign of just what an island of prosperity Germany has become within the ocean of troubles that is the euro zone.
While workers in many other countries fear for their jobs as their economies tumble into recession, here newly confident labor unions are demanding massive pay rises — and going on strike to get them.
On Wednesday around 30,000 workers in Germany’s vital manufacturing sector downed tools in a coordinated action that affected over 100 companies, including Daimler and Bosch. The strikes continued on Thursday with an estimated 115,000 workers staging a walk out in around 400 companies, including Porsche and Audi, as part of industrial action to secure a hefty 6.5 percent pay rise forGermany’s 3.6 million metalworkers.
Yet, while some workers in troubled countries may look with envy at their German comrades’ brazenness, in fact the action taking place from Berlin to Bavaria could end up being to the benefit of workers in Madrid, Athens or Lisbon. Continue reading
GlobalPost, March 23, 2012
BERLIN, Germany — On average, it will take a German woman until March 23 to earn as much money as a male counterpart earned last year.
That is the extent of Germany’s alarming gender pay gap.
Women’s organizations will be marking the date, dubbed Equal Pay Day, with some 150 events, including podium discussions, film screenings and flash mobs, to try to highlight the fact that, on average, German women earn about a fifth less than men.
They got some heavyweight backing for their cause earlier this month, when the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development berated the country for having a 21.6 percent wage gap, the highest in Europe.
In fact Germany’s own figures put the disparity higher — at 23 percent.
“In no other European country is the wage gap between men and women so strong as in Germany,” the OECD wrote in its report.
It also pointed out that women occupy only 4 percent of top corporate jobs in Europe’s economic powerhouse. In Sweden and France the proportion of women serving on company boards is between 15 and 20 percent, and in Norway, which has introduced a mandatory gender quota, it is close to 40 percent. Continue reading