In Germany, the latest scheme by the government of Prime Minister Angela Merkel to deal with Europe’s migrant crisis envisions hiring of up to 100 thousand asylum-seekers in a new state program for the employment of immigrants.
In the midst of the immigration crisis, Berlin has announced the deployment of a controversial program known as “one-euro jobs.”
Though the plan is to employ the workers at less than subsistence wages, Germany’s Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Andrea Nahles is speaking of the new plan as a “springboard” for migrants to enter the labor market.
The program was forged as a means of dealing with the “forced inactivity” of tens of thousands of migrants living in refugee centers with nothing to do, waiting for documents that sometimes takes months and sometimes never arrive at all.
Now, for no more than twenty hours a week, illegal migrants can work at a nominal salary, which advocates say will allow them to scrape together a few euro more while providing a needed service for the community. Analysts say that the immigrants will amass a mere 84 euro per month, which more or less corresponds to the personal expenses of asylum seekers.
The unskilled labor being offered to the migrants includes serving food, repairing beds and watering plants as “mini jobs” that refugees can undertake in exchange for wages of a euro an hour.
Ladle and spatula in hand, Zaid, a 23-year-old Iraqi immigrant, lifts the cover off a pan filled with goulash and potato croquettes. As he spoons out serving-size portions, he tries to explain to other migrants the recipe for this “very German” dish, seasoned with oil and beef broth.
From 6:30-8:30pm, Zaid is employed by the city of Berlin to distribute dinners to another 152 Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan and Moldovan refugees, who reside in a Berlin gym that has been transformed into a temporary shelter.
“In the short term, this is a judicious measure since otherwise the refugees would have no chance to work,” said Ronald Bachmann, an economist at the RWI institute based in Essen. While their requests are being processed, asylum-seekers have no right to work legally.
“Seeing refugees working also sends a political signal,” said Bachmann, referring to the rampant criticism of migrants living at the expense of the German State.
The new plan is not without its critics, with human rights groups comparing the scheme to sweatshops whose products are regularly boycotted by first-world nations.
Conservatives have also been quick to criticize the plan, such as Stefan von Borstel of Germany’s Die Welt newspaper, who claims that the plan is a ruse by the government to improve employment statistics.
In the meantime, the experiment is already active in many German cities in Germany. In Bavaria, 9,000 migrants are already at work, while in Berlin there are some 4,000 asylum-seekers employed in this type of job. In the city of Hannover, immigrants can work repairing bicycles, sorting clothes or accompanying children to the nursery, in exchange for German classes.
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