I worked in Germany and Finland as a leased labourer and as a permanent employee. September 2003 I started in Stuttgart with my working career as an industrial mechanic in a quite big company (Hansa AG) in a training relationship. With me 5 others started there. It’s completely different to Finland, in Germany it’s quite common that the practical part (60%) of the job-training is in a company the theoretical part (40%) in a trade school. Usually the job training is 3 to 3.5 years, depending on the job. In the beginning I was quite satisfied with the situation there, well it was exhausting, but I learned what I have to learn for the job. In 2005 the situation was getting different the company was in economic struggle, workers fired. Because in the job training there is not a high salary (500 to 800€ a month) we were used more and more as cheap workers in the production what has nothing to do with our job training. As the job training was finished in February 2007 we got a one year contract to work in the company. After that contract ended they offered us that we can continue working there, but via a temporary employment agency with a lot smaller salary. We accepted that because we were unexperienced workers and there was really no other alternative to get a job. It was getting worse, the work pressure, the stress and we have to do lot of overtime. If you didn’t accept to work overtime the boss told you: “Than you will replace with other workers, in the temporary employment agency I have enough workers who can do the job”. After a half year I quit the job and was going to school and learned more about automation, electronics and electric. This further education was without any company involved this was 2 years in a technical college. I finished the college in the biggest economical struggle of the capitalist system since years. I didn’t get any job in Stuttgart with the exception via those temporary employment agencies, but after those bad experiences that wasn’t an option for me.
The work union was quite weak in the company, not a lot of the employees were organised. So the work-union hadn’t much power the help us with that. Might be the reason that in Germany there are a lot more immigrant workers from a lot different countries and cultures then in Finland and they don’t know or understand what a strong union can do and it can help them. In Germany it’s completely normal that you have work colleagues from Italy, Greece, Spain, Slovenia, Croatia, Turkey, African countries and so on.
Those bad experiences in my work life changed me I get more interested about politics, the iniquitous capitalist system and got contacts with left wing groups and alternative lifestyles.
After a long journey during 2010 and 2011 through most of Europe with the money what I hard-earned, I ended in Tampere.
Well it was difficult in the beginning with nearly no Finnish language skills. But after a half year I found a workplace. The boss of the automation section there was really nice and said that it doesn’t matter if my Finnish skills are not that well so the work mates learn English when they communicate with me.
I really liked to work there, got a permanent contract, the work wasn’t stressful, I learned a lot new things and my Finnish was getting better and better. But after 1.5 years the economical-situation was getting worse in the company so I lost my job. Well then the same situation what I had in Germany began, only work via temporary employment agencies and then only work for a few months and again unemployed.
Fortunately the work unions in Finland are better organized also in the temporary employment agencies and I got my unemployment benefits via the union without any restrictions. That’s completely different to Germany, there are no unemployment benefits from the union, there you get it from the employment office and you have to go through a lot of bureaucracy. Probably you have to accept to work in low paid jobs otherwise you lost your unemployment benefits. The low paid sector and working via temporary employment agencies is strongly increasing in Germany. So the small unemployment rate in Germany has is dark side definitively.
What does the EU to increase the rights of workers in Europe? Nothing!
So it’s important we increase our international contacts and also try to get more workers via temporary employment agencies in the union. Because in the capitalist system, companies try outsource work to those temporary employment agencies because there the unions haven’t that much power. We have the fight against this trend in Europe. It was normal in the 80’s that nearly everybody had a normal job with normal conditions. But this is getting worse the whole time.
There is more and more automation, unemployment is increasing and stress at work is increasing. That’s not logical. Times have to go better not worse. The 6 hour workday model what is successful in Gothenburg should also be tested in Finland and elsewhere in Europe. Times are changing but what do the governments in Europe? They downgrade worker-rights and going backwards.
We now need powerful, radical work unions to fight against the capitalist propaganda and the austerity.
Daniel Preiß, AO 007