German unions defend welfare state

Charlotte Kates ckates at
Sun May 26 19:26:36 MDT 1996

>X-Sender: ksm at
>Date: Fri, 24 May 1996 10:22:10 -0500
>To: labr.newsline%conf at
>From: Scott Marshall <scott at>
>Subject: German unions defend welfare state
>**German unions defend welfare state**
>(Reprinted from the May 25, 1996 issue of the People's
>Weekly World. May be reprinted or reposted with PWW credit.
>For subscription information see below)
>By William Pomeroy
>LONDON - A long hot summer is looming in Germany. One of
>strikes and other forms of confrontation between trade
>unions and an employer-backed Kohl government out to slash
>the hard-won social benefits of working people. The
>succession of brief nationwide strikes by public service
>unions that began in the first week of May have been called
>"warning strikes" by union leaders, prelude to a general
>At issue is the set of measures put before the Bundestag
>(parliament) by Chancellor Helmut Kohl April 26 that cuts
>nearly $40 billion from government spending, chiefly from
>the welfare state sector. Tripartite talks held by
>government officials with unions and employers broke down
>when vociferous union opposition was spurned by the other
>two participants.
>The proposed cuts include:
>* Pension fund spending including raising the retirement age
>for women from 60 to 63, sharply reducing pensions for
>ethnic German immigrants from the former Soviet Union,
>reducing from 7 to 3 the years of state contributions paid
>into student pension funds, and cutting the duration of
>pension fund-financed health cures from 4 weeks to 3;
>* Cutting sick pay to 80 percent of basic wages for the
>first six weeks of illness and to 10 percent for long-term
>illness (full pay for a worker while sick is one of the
>prized gains won by IG Metall in the 1950s);
>* Raising to 10 from the present 5 the number of workers
>employed by a company before the rules protecting workers
>from dismissal take effect (nearly 80 percent of German
>companies employ less than 10);
>* Curtailment of welfare allowances for children.
>In addition, Kohl has called for a general wage freeze. One
>of the measures put to the Bundestag is for abolition of the
>wealth tax.
>These steps are the wedge to tear down the welfare state, an
>outlook shared by the leader of the Green Party, Joahha
>Fisher, who says, "We are at the beginning of the
>dismantling of the welfare state."
>Kohl government channels have been conducting alarmist
>propaganda about the viability of the pension system and of
>the cost of other social benefits. It is argued that the
>proportion of working people to pensioners that was 3 to 1
>in the 1960s is now 2 to 1 and that by 2030 there will be
>one worker for every pensioner who could not sustain the
>pension cost. Says Kohl's finance minister, Theo Waigel,
>"The welfare and taxation state has reached its limit."
>Truth is, the failures of the German capitalist economy have
>aggravated state budget problems. Unemployment that soared
>to a postwar record 4.2 million early this year has cut
>severely into income tax revenues while adding greatly to
>dole pay.
>The greatest pressure for literally restructuring the
>welfare state comes from the need to meet terms of the
>European Union Maastricht Treaty agreed as basis for a
>member country to join the single European currency system:
>its budgetary deficit must be cut below the 3 percent level.
>The deputy chairperson of the German Trade Union Federation,
>Ursula Engelen-Kefer called government plans "totally
>imbalanced" and said the unions will "fight with all means"
>against the assault on the welfare state.
>The deputy leader of the Central Committee of Catholic
>Laity, Karl Nothof, castigated the Kohl measures which
>"spare the rich and penalize the poor." An opinion poll by
>the Forsa research organization early in May showed 72
>percent of people against the cuts and 90 percent believe
>the government is not doing enough to contend with
>Dieter Schulte, president of the Trade Union Federation,
>called the government "a tool of employer interests."
>Klaus Zwickel, head of the huge IG Metall union, who has
>called the Kohl plan "a plot against labor and social
>justice," told a May Day rally that "we will not hesitate to
>use every available means of industrial strife."
>Within days those warnings were followed up by strike
>action. "Warning strikes" by postal workers, bus and tram
>workers began the struggle, with nurses and rubbish
>collectors, airport and bank workers next in line and the
>rest of the public service unions ready to follow. If the
>major industrial unions find it necessary to follow suit,
>the demand in Germany for "Hands off the welfare state" will
>be a powerful message to all Europe's capitalists who want
>to turn back the clock.
>***       *  Read the Peoples Weekly World  *     *********
>   ****   *  Sub info: pww at      *  ****    *
>       ****  235 W. 23rd St. NYC 10011      ***      *   **
>   ****   *  $20/yr - $1-2 mos trial sub    *  ****    *
>***       *                                 *     *********
>Tired of the same old system: Join the Communist Party, USA
>      Info: CPUSA at; or (212) 989-4994; or


    Charlotte L. Kates     ckates at        Collingswood, NJ

     Fight for peace, justice, democracy, equality and socialism!
   Join the Communist Party, USA!
	   235 West 23rd Street    New York, NY 10011
	 cpusa at   1-800-923-8061  (212) 989-4994
    People and Nature before Profits! Jobs not Jails! Defeat Racism!
		  End Sexism and Homophobia!
		Defeat the Contract on America!
	 ++++ stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal ++++
     ++++ if you agree copy these 3 sentences in your own sig ++++
   ++++ more info:
       Shorten the Work Week! Six-hour day with no cut in Pay!

  Cuba si, Bloqueo no! Support the Pastors and their Fast for Life! Free
medical aid and computers for the Cuban people! Call to protest the
                   seizure of this humanitarian aid:

	          Robert Rubin Secretary of the Treasury
	          Phone:  202-622-5300, fax: 202-622-0073

	or e-mail President Clinton at:  president at
	Visit the Pastors at:

	Read the voice of the people--the People's Weekly World!
	235 W.23rd Street		New York, NY 10011
    Trial subscriptions only $1. The voice of the U.S. working class!

     --- from list marxism at ---

More information about the Marxism mailing list