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FDP wants unemployed to shovel snow

DDP/The Local · 21 Feb 2010, 11:43

Published: 21 Feb 2010 11:43 GMT+01:00

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"People who refuse work should have their benefits cut," Westerwelle repeated to the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, further stoking the current debate on unemployment benefit reform. "On the other hand, I expect the state to make every young person a job offer."

"Everyone who is young and healthy and has no relatives to look after must accept reasonable work, whether that is in the form of community work, a career or training." Westerwelle said. On being asked whether this would include shovelling snow, he responded, "Why not?"

The FDP leader said that Berlin had been covered with snow and ice for weeks, preventing many old people from leaving their homes. "The city could send young people living on benefits to clear the pavements," Westerwelle said. "Life can be this practical, but large sections of the political class have distanced themselves from such ideas."

Westerwelle also criticised the fact that only 2.6 percent of people on benefits are facing sanctions, although some surveys estimate that over 20 percent abuse the system.

Westerwelle used the interview to reiterate his support for the government plan to replace cash payouts for the children of people on welfare with education coupons. "The vast majority of parents sacrifice themselves to care for their children," he said. "But there are too many cases where allowances that are meant for children are invested in a new television."

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DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:27 February 21, 2010 by dcgi
Get the unemployed shoveling snow? Why not indeed! Unless I'm missing a point, a lot of people fall into the "can't be bothered", "don't want a job" depression because routine inevitably suffers (I've been there) and that feeling of no reason to get out of bed, compounded by the fact in some cases you're being paid healthily for doing so. Community service would be a great idea for the unemployed.

On that subject I also think that the American chain-gangs aren't such a bad idea, (obviously I wouldn't want the two groups to mix), but again is it such a bad to see people wasting away their days in prison could be spent more productively by giving something back to the community, building things, fixing roads, cleaning streets etc? I heard at last estimate in the UK at least it costs about £40k a year to lock a single prisoner up.
15:14 February 21, 2010 by guerito
These ideas smack of forced labour - we've been there, done that. Would it be so hard to find people willing to do the job, if proper payment were offered?
15:41 February 21, 2010 by Talonx
dcgi, on chain-gangs, this would seem to make sense except that prison's aren't really doing anything for prisoners in the U.S. as such they aren't really getting to much from the community. Make the people who run the prisons give back to the community, by actually rehabilitating, or better yet, make them work chain-gangs.

guerito, it is forced labour that he's talking about. There would be no other option for alot of these folks, especially in this economy.

As for the 20% supposedly gaming the system, I'd like to see that survey. Even if it is 20%, that's microscopic compared to the number of corporate buds that Westerwelle has with bank accounts in Switzerland.
18:01 February 21, 2010 by wxman
If you get a government check, you can be put to work by the government. If you don't want to be told what to do, don't accept the check. It couldn't be simpler. No more free money.
19:16 February 21, 2010 by berlinski
wxman, you and Westervelle are fascist idiots. If you get a cheque from any employer it is to do a job you are under contract to do. If the employer requests you to do a different job to that you are contracted to do, it is constructive dismissal. Why should the unemployed be asked to do just about anything? Germany has a lot less jobs than people wanting to do them. Just because some people are in an unfortunate situation to not be able to find meaningful work does not mean they should be made to shovel snow or Sh** for that matter.

Take this to its logical conclusion. If an employer can get someone from Hartz IV to do a job, then why would they employ someone. Logical end is everyone is working on Hartz IV. System doesn't work. Better thing to do is to create meaningful employment for people. Less bureaucracy and more real incentives to work and create employment are what is needed. Picking on the unemployed and blaming them is not the answer. That sort of mentality reminds me of something that happened along those lines 70 years ago when a certain segment of society were blamed for Germany's woes.
19:23 February 21, 2010 by daithioconaill
@wxman. I am sure a lot of these people who are getting "a government cheque" would love to have a real job with the government. "Beamters" in Germany have a safe job for life. They are practically impossible to fire. No wonder nobody wants to create jobs in Germany. If I was an employer, I wouldn't want to locate in Germany. Blaming the unemployed on there being no jobs is like blaming an alcoholic for the price of beer going up.
21:01 February 21, 2010 by MJTinNOLA
WXMAN, you are 100% correct my friend. Enough of lazy people who expect everything to just be handed to them without cost. And the lazy bums want us to do because they are so cute and wonderful. Make them get off their big bums and work for the money we as tax payers give them.

Berlinski, you are wrong as wrong can be. If you take off your ideological blinders long enough and put down your Hartz IV payment long enough you will see what my hero Guido (he is the ONLY politician in Germany with the guts to call it like it really is) is really talking about. He says that if you get money, you need to earn it. There is no free lunch. Sorry. And you are the one in need of a logic check. What he is talking about is doing work that governments provide, not corporations. You tell me the name of the corporation that clears the snow off the streets. You can't can you? Of course not. So there will be no mass firings of people so they can work as cheap labor for Hartz IV. Don't be such an idiot. It does not make a bit of sense. And neither does this signal the rise of the Third Reich. It is a sensible demand that needs to be implimented immediately.

The problem is there is a general dislike for hard honest work in Germany. Everyone wants that perfect job with 60 days off a year. I have lived in four countries and never seen one with so many people who don't want to work, and expect everything to be given to them with no cost on their part. That is the problem with the student protestors as well. They do not want to do the hard work required to accomplish goals. Sorry, sometimes you cannot have the ideal job. Heaven is not found here on Earth my friend, and sometimes a responsible adult needs to accept something that is not perfect just to get by and NOT be a parasite on society. I say hand out the shovels and make Guido Chancellor. He is the only one with the guts to say and do the right thing.
21:40 February 21, 2010 by berlinski

Hartz IV could also be made to test shoes by running around all day to see how quick the soles wear out. Oh and let me see, they could be made to shave their hair off to provide material for clothing. What else, let me see. Ah yes! They could also be made to take out any gold fillings they have in their teeth in lieu of payments made to them by the state.

What we are seeing here from Pesterwille is not a solution to a problem. It is a way of finding a scapegoat for Germany's shortcomings. You are right, there is no corporation for shovelling snow, but there are companies who collect our rubbish. Can these companies not also take care of this and hire employees on a meaningful wage instead of the government using forced labour to do the job?
21:57 February 21, 2010 by theladdie
Reading this

"Everyone who is young and healthy and has no relatives to look after must accept reasonable work, whether that is in the form of community work, a career or training."

I am sorry but I lost my job recently and I wanted to do some training to better my chances at getting work. But since they cut finding for courses I am left out on my ear... So although I am willing to learn and work but I would be forced to shovel snow...

I don't want to feed off the system and I would be quicker off it if I got some help getting to a class room rather than clearing the snow out side it!
22:56 February 21, 2010 by Fredfeldman
Guido is a funny guy trying to pretend that it is the folks with no decently paid work rather than the system that denies it to them that is the problem.
23:28 February 21, 2010 by MJTinNOLA

You are just being silly and alarmist again. Do you listen to yourself? Shaving heads? Gold teeth? Your examples are silly, extremist, and far removed from reality. Get a grip on yourself you just look stupid. And yes, companies do hire people at meaningful wages to collect rubbish. Do you know what the average wage for a retail worker in Germany is? Try €12/hr., that is very high. Stop being alarmist and silly and think instead of react. It is a BIG difference between slave labor, shaving heads, pulling teeth and asking people to get off the dole, or do community service. Do you have a problem with conscription and community service for young people? Why not the unemployed. Westerwelle for Chancellor!!!!
00:40 February 22, 2010 by Talonx
MJTinNOLA, you're delusional, Westerwelle isn't talking about paying anybody a proper wage, he's talking about massively cutting costs for businesses that need employees. Berlinski, regardless of argument ad nazium, is right, that's the slippery slope Westerwelle's plan leads down. Forced labor will lead to further jobs evaporation, lowered wages overall. If this guy was really the economic genius you think he is he'd be retiering the insurance system and cracking down on employers that rampantly force employees to be selbstandige.

01:25 February 22, 2010 by Fredfeldman
Well said Talonx. This is about the majority trying to pimp off the minority and using self righteousness as a smoke screen.
03:33 February 22, 2010 by CalBill
Oh my God!!! The hand ringing and whining from the left will be deafening -- I mean, the idea of people having to actually get off their calloused posteriors and work for money!!!! How undignified.
07:14 February 22, 2010 by ColoSlim
There are no expectations for someone who is taking unemployment. If you don't like it, stop providing or provide less assistance, but don't expect people to work for it, because you will always be disappointed.

Chain-gangs undercut legitimate business and create opportunities for corruption.

If you want your sidewalks cleared, provide tax benefits for those who want to clear sidewalks. Tax free earnings would raise some hands.
07:44 February 22, 2010 by Talonx
CalBill et al., are you people cracked, pretty much everybody is against Westerwelle's half-cocked ideas. His coalition partners the center-right CDU/CSU are some of the strongest critics of this idea.
08:52 February 22, 2010 by Greyhound54
It is amazing how quick some folks can equate doing some community work for the dole you are receivng not to go to work is "slave labor" Would that make a volunteer a 'slave laborer" What about those who accept alternate service in the health industry as nurse's aids. In my community the streets are not trash free, they are littered, snow was not removed from public areas, many public areas not maintained becasue the budget will not permit it Having people who are elibile to do some small community work for their money just makes sense. Could even be a motivator to get them out beating down doors to find word- anykind of work better than sweeping the streets.

Far from a job eliminator it is a job creator. The work they would be doing, is not being done now, it will never be done, so what is there to lose.

I am sure the Left and the Unions will be against it as they are anything that seems to make sense to the taxpayer.
09:06 February 22, 2010 by LancashireLad

Let's first get two things clear here.

1. I am no fan of Westerwelle by any stretch of the imagination; as a foreign minister he is a joke,but that does not mean that every single word that comes out of his mouth is rubbish. Let's get away from this black/white thinking that fundamentalists love. There really are colours out there too.

2. Westerwelle is not proposing using unemployed people to do jobs that should be done by a regular employee. (If he did propose that I would put my name to any petition against it. that's just economic madness)

He also did not suggest snow clearance - one of the reporters did and he replied that it was possible - there was nothing definite in that statement.

I am however all for making those on unemployment who are not willing to get off their backsides and do an honest days work give something back to the communitiy which is supporting them.

@theladdie #9 - I am sorry to hear about that and of course this is another aspect of the whole unemployed/training problem this that needs to be looked at. It is true that people who are willing to be trained should be given the opportunity.

I am certainly not trying to imply that all of those on unemployment benefits are slackers, but I still agree that those being supported by the state/community can be expected to give something back to the state/community. Exactly how this manifests itself needs to be carefully planned (and *that* is the main problem with Westerwelle - he/the FDP don't think things through)
09:18 February 22, 2010 by ECSNatale
I'm not going to tell any of you that you are wrong or right, but I would like to share what I see in my own community. Talking about the faceless "them" seems pointless. Why not talk about real people in real situations.

Next to my home is a kiosk where some of the local unemployed lads like to gather. They smoke, they drink, they throw their rubbish on the ground, break their bottles against our fence, jeer at the people who walk buy and get downright aggressive with anyone who tells them to stop shouting and screaming after midnight. They vandalize the area, they break the glass in the phone booth, they steal light fixtures from the sides of buildings, they have slashed tires on people's cars. They have nothing at all to do so they do what they want. Then they sleep until afternoon the next day.

We have spent thousands installing security cameras with infrared and let it be known that everything is recorded. It is the only reason they don't dare come near our property.

We all know who they are. The police know who they are. Their parents are not much different than they are so community dialogue is fruitless.

When asked (by me) what they want to do with their lives, I've been told why work for low pay (obviously they don't have much to offer). None of them have been able to show up regularly for any type of training or schooling, let alone actually hold a job. They quit everything they start. It is NOT a question of not having an opportunity, it is the fact that none of these lads (there are about 20 of them) give a rat's ass and they can live at home, get some money from the government for their fun, and work a few odd black jobs for the rest.

So you tell me... who is wrong?
10:06 February 22, 2010 by freechoice
what about those employees who had worked for many years contributing to the unemployment insurance, and later got the pink slips?

should they get to shove snows too?
11:05 February 22, 2010 by LancashireLad
Again, freechoice, it's not that simple.

I would say that priority be given to the longer term unemployed and those that hed never been (legally) employed to give them a chance to show they are still willing to work.

To fend off the obvious next question, if I were to suddenly lose my job and end up on unemployment benefit then yes I would do community work (remember, that's what is being suggested, not stealing proper jobs) if only to prove to myself and others that I am still willing to do something and not just sit on my behind.
11:58 February 22, 2010 by rosenthalenglish
Why do you all claim this is money for nothing?Those who work in the UK,do you not pay National Insurance?Doesn't this include money for if you are made unemployed?So are you not entitled to Umemployment Benefit?Not everyone who is unemployed is a lazy git or idiot as many of you try to make out.Why not ask why all those with so much money hidden in foriegn bank accounts and avoiding taxes in their relevant countries, are the same poeple who think others should survive with a minimum wage or here in Germany on even less, as many jobs don't have a minimum wage.I also don't see any problem with clearing snow ect if they are willing to pay unemployment Benefit plus a bonus for doing so.Here in Germany many misuse workers.Many illegally expect you to work a day FREE as a trail!The employers see nothing wrong in it?Can you believe it.Also they use to the system to take people from job-centers at €1 rates,then after so much time say they don't want them and get another person for one Euro.Look at the employers and not the employees for the big problems in the job market.
17:11 February 22, 2010 by berlinski
I totally agree with you rosenthalenglish. Look at it from an employers point of view. Why would you hire anyone on a proper working wage when you can get someone to work on a 1€ job or an internship? This whole policy leads to unemployment and a lot of people working for nothing. And Westerwelle's solution. Have the unemployed clearing snow from the pavement. What next. Cleaning Sh** from his shoes? This is all going in the direction of the old classic saying "Arbeit macht frei".

I know of companies who employ interns and then get the interns to train the following interns who will take over their job. How can this be right? Do an internship, then don't get employed and sweep snow or dirt from the streets.

Another classic example of employers being the ones responsible. eBay in Germany fires half it's German workforce now, even though they have just posted record profits. Now we have people who are unemployed for no fault of their own who will eventually be expected to do 1€ jobs or sweep sh**.
14:13 February 23, 2010 by bearded1
If you stopped all immigrants coming here and sent the ones already here home

there still wouldnt be enough jobs for quite a few unemployed they would just come out with another excuse why they cannot find a job......LAZY SW....
16:19 February 23, 2010 by biker hotel harz
Could you please send some unemployed bods to the Harz please! We've got tons of the white stuff here needs cleaning up!
17:52 February 23, 2010 by tollermann
What would doing a little work do for those receiving state largess? How about gaining a little self respect for those that expect to receive benefits! Modern societies can help those less fortunate, but now come on you secularists, why is it my responsibility to pay for all of the non-working poor? Everything is free right?
23:01 February 23, 2010 by css1971
Civil Service not Social Welfare.

Why shouldn't people who are able bodied be required to perform civil service for the money which they receive?
17:21 February 26, 2010 by Talonx
ECSNatale, your 'example' is littered with contradiction. Specifically you state, "Their parents are not much different than they are...", and then you contradict yourself, "It is NOT a question of not having an opportunity". There it is, you don't seem to understand the situation very well. Maybe back up a bit and analyze what you've said, because you don't come across as a very critical thinker right now.

Bearded1, unemployment is the result of market forces not a person's choice, why do so mayn people spew idiocy on the Local?

Tollermann, firstly, you don't seem to know what 'secular' actually means. Secondly, it isn't your responsibility, you live in a country that has one of the worst healthcare systems in the developed world, one of the most inneffective social services system, and your country spends the least on services compared to any other nation in Europe. You, live in the states, most of your taxes actually go to defense and military spending. I hope you enjoy the fact that you moved yourself to a place that is slowly gliding down the path of Rome.

So yeah folks, if you want Germany to look like the U.S. listen to Westerwelle's reverse progressivism and you'll have your own paranoid Glenn Beck's in no time.
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