German unions stand up for seasonal workers


As the summer season boosts demand for seasonal agricultural workers to harvest fruit, vegetables and other crops, Germany’s Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB) trade union federation is demanding better protection and working conditions.

Many seasonal workers come from abroad during the harvest, enduring miserable conditions and accommodation. They work hard, without health insurance and pension rights. The DGB and IG BAU are calling for an end to the special regulations for seasonal work and social security for all employees. "Seasonal work without social security is not a natural law, but part of the exploitation system of some employers,” says Anja Piel, DGB board member. “Comprehensive health insurance coverage would be a first step in the right direction but is far from sufficient. Seasonal workers need complete social security protection.

“In many cases, what was intended for good reasons as an exception for holiday and student jobs is exploited by employers to employ people from other EU countries on lousy conditions, without social protection and for little money. The unions demand that short -term employment should only be permitted for pupils and students. It must also be limited to the original period of 50 days in the calendar year. The fact that the wage gap in Europe is used so shamelessly in Germany must end.”

Photo: DGB/Udo Herrmann/

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