German "Hot Autumn"

Jorn Andersen jorn.andersen at vip.cybercity.dk
Tue Oct 1 18:40:12 MDT 1996


Thank you, Jon, for the details - that sounds really bad in my european=
 ears.

Just for comparision I will give some details from my conditions as a
Telecom worker in Denmark. This would be quite typical, although I have the
benefit of usually not working nights and weekends, which a lot of others
do - most get extra, but some don't.

Sick pay:
100% from the first day. However, the employer gets refusion from the state
after the first few weeks. Long time absence because you are sick: After
120 days you get the sack.
Some 10 years ago they re-introduced a rule that you had to pay for your
first sick-day. This was scrapped again a couple of years later - I think
because the effect was that many people took more days off as compensation=
 :-)

Health care:
Public, i.e. your employer is not involved, and treatment is free. However
you will often have to pay for medicine when used outside hospitals - even
though it is state subsidized this can become a burden if you have some
chronic disease. (I think however that there is a top limit - not quite=
 sure.)
One growing problem is that you will often have to wait quite a long time
for non-acute treatment, which causes better-off's (and the rich) to use
private hospitals.

Maternity leave:
Mother gets 4 weeks off before expected birth. Both parents 2 weeks after
birth. Mother 14 weeks after that. Parents can share between them 10 weeks
after that. All is full pay (it is for all public employees + some
private). The same rules applies to adoption. Except for the pay this is
public law.
In Sweden maternity leave is somewhat longer.

Overtime:
50%/100% extra depending on how long time. (I very seldom work overtime and
have changed my workplace so I am not quite sure of the details :-( ) Extra
for working at uncomfortable hours - evenings, nights weekends etc. - not
the ordinary uncomfortable hours. ;-)
I think it is very rare that people don't get overtime pay, however in some
unions they have accepted a "flexible work time" scheme which allows for
levelling out over a number of weeks. In some unions overtime is not paid
in cash, but you will have to take time-off (150% or 200%) at some other
time, other unions there is a combination or individual choice (which I=
 have).

Then of course there is also the whole question of unemployment benefits,
which is somewhat of a law-jungle. Basically it says that if you have an
unemployment insurance (and have had it for one year - and been employed in
6 months out of that year) you get paid for the first 2=BD years of
unemployment. Then you have to go through some "scheme" (public employment
or education) and you can get paid for 2 more years.
But it is a law-jungle with a lot of if's and but's, and it is one of those
things which have been attacked a lot by the previous bourgeois gvnt. and
now actually very much by the present soc-dem gvnt. Especially young people
are having a very hard time because of this.
Unemployment funds are managed by the union bureaucracy, but they often are
more interested in using the funds for influence than in getting better
conditions for their unemployed members. In reality they also do a lot of
the "policing" work. Unempl. funds are heavily subsidized by the state.
Most unionized workers are in a union unemployment fund - actually this is
maybe *the* most important reason for the high level of unionization in
Denmark (85-90%).

How is this in the US?


I think all over Europe the employers are going very hard after those gains
which we won in the boom years. And you are right that the US employees
seem to have a competitive advance on this. But there is also another
aspect to it: Because much of this social security is subsidized by the
state, the soc-dem's are on the same waggon. Their main concern is the
state budget deficit. This means that what we see is that they both agree
that the agenda is "modernizing the welfare state" - they differ only on
the speed and extent of it. This will proably be *the* main agenda for the
next few years - at least in our part of the world.

=20
At 10:01 01-10-96 EDT, Jon Flanders wrote:

>  I wish our European brothers and sisters well. They can look at us, in=
 the
>USA, if they want to see where their conditions of employment are heading.

We actually do, and I will forward your mail to our paper - sometimes a
detailed and concrete desription is the best argument.

The flip side of the coin above of course is much higher taxes - but all
opinion polls in Denmark say that as long as people think their taxes are
used for social security they are willing to accept the high taxes.


Yours

Jorn


--
Jorn Andersen

Internationale Socialister
Copenhagen, Denmark
IS-WWW: http://www2.dk-online.dk/users/is-dk/



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