Germany in "crisis" for workers, turns its eyes to the Balkans

Germany in "crisis" for workers, turns its eyes to the Balkans

The German government will double the number of workers from the Balkans, regardless of qualification, to receive a work visa. Unions fear the influx of free labor from the Balkans.

According to data from the Institute for Labor Market and Occupational Studies (IAB) there are currently 1.98 million job vacancies in Germany. To act against the chronic labor shortage, the German government plans to liberalize the relevant labor migration law. A part of the legal package is the so-called "Regulation of the Western Balkans. The government envisages two fundamental changes: On the one hand this regulation will no longer be limited in time - the current regulation lasts until the end of 2023 - on the other hand the contingent of workers from the Balkans will double to 50,000 workers per year.

Work permit - without qualification

When in the second half of 2015, at the height of the refugee crisis, more than 1 million refugees arrived from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan via the Balkan route, they were joined by many people from the 6 countries of the Western Balkans. They then accounted for 30% of asylum applications, although almost all applications were not recognized. Merkel's government then closed agreements with the Balkan countries on the acceptance of returned refugees and in 2016 the Western Balkans Regulation was approved. It allowed the arrival of a contingent of job seekers without the bureaucratic obstacles of presenting qualifications. Two criteria had to be met: The application for the work permit had to be submitted to the German embassies in these countries and you had not previously applied for asylum.

A regulation that had to satisfy all parties. In Germany there would be regulated immigration of unskilled or medium-skilled labor. On the other hand, the difficult situation of the labor market in these countries would be eased, where especially the youth suffers from unemployment. In Kosovo, for example, unemployment reaches 21%, that of young people even 55%. Thus, it is not surprising that as a result of the regulation, the Federal Labor Agency until the end of 2020 has granted 260,000 visa permits in principle and 98,000 work visa permits from applicants from the Western Balkan countries.

Precarious work on construction sites

This problem is more noticeable in the construction branch. The Construction Industry Association gave up last year on extending the fee-based payment agreement. Workers can only be paid a minimum wage of 12 euros an hour, which is much less than before. In the past, 13 to 16 euros per hour were paid in this branch.

In this way employers can put pressure on those who demand a higher wage - because there is always a labor force that costs less. On the other hand, they do not have to fear the trials. Workers from the Balkans are a particularly vulnerable group, they do not know their rights, and for many from the Balkans the working conditions are unacceptable compared to the countries they come from. Added to this is the fact that state controls are very few./ Dĭ

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