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German builders fear influx of cheap workforce

The Local · 6 Feb 2011, 14:09

Published: 06 Feb 2011 14:09 GMT+01:00

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The construction union IG Bau and the central association of the German construction industry (ZDB) have both expressed their concern that a cheap workforce could be imported from China should the directive, which is currently being discussed by the European parliament, be passed.

ZDB President Hans-Hartwig Loewenstein told news magazine Focus, "Our market would be on the brink of collapse. It would have catastrophic consequences for mid-sized companies."

Loewenstein said there were 40 million young, unmarried men in China, hundreds of thousands of whom could come to work on European construction sites. "The German government is not giving us enough support," complained Loewenstein. "And the main problem is that the EU Commission has no interest in German mid-sized companies."

There are currently 700,000 people working in Germany's construction industry. They have a minimum wage of €10.90 an hour in western Germany and €9.50 an hour in the east. According to Focus, this could theoretically be undercut by foreign companies if the EU directive comes into force.

For example, a Romanian company could employ Chinese people at the Romanian minimum wage of €175 a month and put them to work on German building sites.

In the past week, IG Bau boss Klaus Wiesehügel and the head of industry association HDB Michael Knipper both warned of the pressure on the German job market should the directive be passed.

Story continues below…


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

23:35 February 6, 2011 by jrepka
Why would anyone want to do business with a company that would not give back to the community it is trying to flourish in? China? I would understand it if they allowed other EU workers to come in from diffrent EU countries, but China? Well make a German law that states any person working in Germany must make the countries minumin wage.
08:48 February 7, 2011 by Kayak
@jrepka; do you have something against Chinese people earning money for the work that they do?

The reality of businesses accessing cheap labour is nothing new.

Please correct me if I'm wrong but Germany doesn't have a minimum wage so how can you make a law against it?
09:04 February 7, 2011 by catjones
At least there's no double standard here. Germany never brings their own crews to work in foreign countries.
09:35 February 7, 2011 by chiarel
Dear "The Local", you compare apples with pears. Please clarify how many hours a German works for 10.90€/hour during one month and how many hours per month are included in a Romanian 175 €/hour wage. I think that comparing two unclear values is not professional, is like saying that a German gains 300 apples and a Romanian gains 100 pears. The article doesn't mention the gain in China, if it has been mentioned, then would it have been in $/season to seem smaller that it is?
09:56 February 7, 2011 by freechoice
175€ per month is about 1,563.27RMB for Chinese workers. just marginally higher than their average wage of 1,000 RMB per month. 1,000 RMB per month can buy much nowadays when food prices and rentals are so high. Who would really take the trouble of flying 10,000 miles to come here to work. Only corporate fat cats are laughing away to the banks for exploiting cheap laborers.

But anyway German construction need alot of boost of workers, you hear of demands exceeding supplies in student accommodation.
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