German cleaning sector speaks to the politicians

17th of September 2021
German cleaning sector speaks to the politicians

Katja Scholz reports from Germany where the cleaning sector is taking a keen interest in elections.

Germany is about to embark on elections to the Bundestag. By early summer, the contract cleaning association BIV had spelt out the political issues closest to its heart. More than 300 firms took part in an online questionnaire to rate political issues according to importance.

Ten specific issues came up covering a range of topics. BIV president Thomas Dietrich identified a common thread: “It is the job of politicians to lay down the broad outlines. But it is not their job to grind down free collective bargaining, to drive up still further the already sky-high taxes and levies in Germany or to limit the use of established tools such as work contracts or the possibility of fixed terms.”

The pandemic also plays a central role, continued the president: “Germany has to go digital at all levels as quickly as possible and become less bureaucratic. The pandemic is not only a health crisis but also a profound economic crisis.”

The 10 demands

Introduce more flexibility into the Working Hours Act. Our legislation is almost 30 years old, rigid and inflexible. It would be easier to move from an eight-hours-a-day system to a maximum weekly working time.

Strengthen training efforts. Training must have a greater digital focus, more practical relevance and be more competitive. Politicians must also better promote vocational training.

Reducing bureaucracy and increasing digitisation. We need bolder efforts to reduce red tape for business, for example in laws and regulations – and in return full speed ahead for digitisation.

Climate protection yes - soaring costs no. Our sector supports sustainability and environmental protection. It is however also important to ensure climate protection goes hand in hand with planning efficiency and security of supply.

Reform of part-time employment. On the question of whether to abolish or restructure it, the BIV is receptive to either alternative and suggests compulsory pension insurance and a flat-rate tax for part-time employees. In that case, it would make sense to raise and revitalise the €450 limit.

Retain unfounded fixed-term contracts. This flexible tool is of enormous importance. BIV fails to understand why there should be any discussion about the tightening up or de facto abolition of this provision.

Avoid increasing taxes. Germany stands for a high burden of tax and levies. Any increase in taxes just at the time of the pandemic is not the right way to stimulate employment or the economy.

Limit social security contributions. Social security contributions are key drivers of non-work-related employment costs. So it is important to ensure a stable level of contributions and to cap the limit at 40 per cent.

Strengthen free collective bargaining. Whether it’s the legal minimum wage, nationalisation plans for cleaning or minimum wage awards in the public sector, the trend towards political interference in wages, service competition or free collective bargaining is on the increase. BIV says: keep the politicians out, let the parties involved get on with it!

Keep work contracts. Our service industry is based on the use of reliable work contracts, accompanied by a properly established set of rules for collective bargaining.


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