Report from Germany (fwd from WW)

Luciano Dondero DOND001 at
Sat Feb 3 10:19:17 MST 1996

--fwd msg--
>Via Workers World News Service
>Reprinted from the Feb.8, 1996
>issue of Workers World newspaper
>By Walter Jansen
>Cologne, Germany
>The economic statistics available at the beginning of 1996
>point to increasing difficulty for working-class families in
>Seven million people are jobless. That's about 20 percent
>of the work force.
>Much of unemployment is concentrated in the former German
>Democratic Republic.
>More than 1 million children are on welfare. More than 2.2
>million are poor. A half-million people live in public
>shelters or similar housing.
>These figures are provided by the European Union and
>The former GDR has been hit the hardest. The fact that
>many people are choosing not to have children reflects this.
>In 1989, before it was taken over by capitalist West
>Germany, there were 199,000 children born in the GDR. In
>1995 there were only 80,000 children born there.
>This represents the greatest variation in population
>figures in Germany during the last 200 years, when the
>government began keeping records.
>Trade associations predict more than 30,000 bankruptcies,
>mostly in medium-sized industry in eastern Germany. The
>major industries promise more layoffs as part of
>The automobile bosses plan to eliminate 100,000 of the
>current 650,000 jobs by the year 2000. Ninety thousand of
>1.5 million construction jobs are to disappear by the
>decade's end.
>There are still 100,000 miners. But the main German
>economic institute announced that they too face dramatic
>In 1995 profits exploded in the chemical industry as never
>before. Nevertheless, tens of thousands of workers were let
>go, and this trend is continuing.
>Big capital here prefers to move factories to areas in
>Europe where wages are 25-percent lower--like Portugal,
>Ireland, Poland. The bosses also try to stir up hostility
>between the workers of different nationalities.
>One example is the Tengelmann company. It runs retail
>trade, department stores and commercial houses. Worldwide
>200,000 people work for Tengelmann; 92,000 are in Germany.
>Of these 30,000 will be fired this year.
>The owners--one of the richest families here--say that it
>is more attractive to invest in low-wage cities like Prague,
>Budapest and Warsaw.
>Electro-Siemens goes Tengelman one better. "We invested
>near Prague," this company declares, "but if they strike or
>demand higher wages we will leave the Czech Republic and go-
>-for example--to Kiev in the Ukraine."
>The reactionary government in Bonn is also trying to
>curtail social services, which have been much greater in
>Germany for example than in the United States. Claiming the
>money isn't there, they've repeatedly cut subsidies for
>medical care, welfare and unemployment payments for the
>jobless and poor.
>Unions, churches and the left say the ruling class intends
>to bring back "Manchester capitalism"--the brutal practices
>of capitalism at its dawn in the English textile mills
>before there were unions.
>It's the German ruling class's "Contract on Germany."
>Actually, it's a contract of world capitalism on the workers
>all over the globe. It can only be stopped if all those
>being oppressed and exploited join together and fight back
>The most encouraging events as 1995 ended were the
>militant strikes in neighboring France and Belgium. The big
>question is whether this can be extended to Germany and the
>other countries where workers face the same pressure.
>One thing is sure: There is no way out in a capitalist
>                         - END -
>(Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint
>granted if source is cited. For more information contact
>Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail:
>ww at For subscription info send message to:
>ww-info at

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