It’s been a while, but I have returned from my well deserved vacation. Well actually, I cannot really call this vacation as I spent six weeks working as a slave in a factory in order to earn money to pay my tuition fees. Of course this work was not comparable to factory work in Bangladesh for instance, but still I had to work my ass off during different shifts and in unbearable heat- temperatures went up to forty degrees even in South Germany. Anyways, there are also some things I want to point out, although I know that this blog is supposed to be about my observations about Cuba. Often, the media portrays Germany as the European country which stands for growth, justice and fairness. And again, I would like to remind you that economic growth also has its downsides.
In the company I worked for, Continental, there were two types of employees. On the one hand people like me who were directly employed by Continental itself and who got paid nicely per hour. I as a student had an extra benefit as I get my taxes back. Anyways, the second type of employees is the problem. They are called Leiharbeiter in German, or subcontracted workers. They do exactly the same jobs as the directly employed workers but they on the other hand are paid the minimum wage (in Germany that’s 8,50 Euros). And of course this does not cover health insurance, taxes, etc. yet.
I’ve spoken to lots of these people and heard sad stories that have touched my heart. One of my colleages has three children and works for a subcontractor and in total he has been working for about ten years for Continental. According to the law they can only work for 18 months straight at one factory and then they have to switch to another one, so basically they keep being pushed from one company to the other and end up working for the same companies basically. I have to say that this way of achieving “growth” makes me sad. Germany’s unemployment rates are low and the level of productivity is really high, especially in the automobile industry. In 2014, Continental has achieved 34.5 billion euros of profits.* This is INSANE. For the last few years, Continental has refused to employ new people directly, but instead it has met the demands for growing productivity with subcontracted workers. I have observed the same issue in my vacation job from the year before where I worked for the German Post. And the German government is watching this phenomenon, unwilling to force the companies to take action. This is outrageous, and I refuse to praise like everyone else Germany’s position.
A totally different issue I would like to address. I see myself as a political blogger. Born and raised in Germany and having lived in different countries in Europe, I see myself as European citizen rather than a German citizen. And I have to say that I am truly ashamed. I am ashamed to see refugees die on our shores, die in trucks on the highway, die on walls that are being built within Europe only because our politicians fail once again.
I am ashamed to see racist comments and people responding with hate and disgust towards those people that are in need. THE WEST HAS CAUSED THESE PROBLEMS. With wars in the Middle East and supporting extremists with weapons. The Islamic State did not appear out of nowhere. Libya did not become a ‘failed state’ by coincidence. The mess is the responsibility of the world and the mad humanity we have become.
I am ashamed to see refugee shelters burn in Germany. And I would like to point out one thing. If you are one of these “I don’t want to sound racist, but….”- people who say things like “they know what they are getting themselves into by stepping into these boats….” or “they are taking away our jobs….” then STOP READING THIS BLOG NOW. UNFRIEND ME ON FACEBOOK. SEND ME HATEFUL EMAILS OR WHATEVER. That’s all I want to say.
I hope you guys had a great summer. And sorry for drifting off topic. I promise that the next posts will focus on Cuba again.
- read their annual report from 2014 here
some pictures of the nice part of my summer in order to end this pessimistic post in a positive way, though:
Kosniak Waterfalls, Slovenia Plitwitze National Park, Croatia
Kupari, next to Dubrovnik: still destroyed by the Yugoslav Wars which took place there in 1991
- note: the featured image is retrieved from Reuters.