German "Hot Autumn"

Jorn Andersen jorn.andersen at
Thu Oct 3 13:55:57 MDT 1996

At 11:38 02-10-96 +0100, Hugh Rodwell wrote:
>Jon writes:
>>  Now we have the workfare program bursting on the national
consciousness. New
>>York city is the test bed for this. It is shaping up quickly as a challenge
>>for labor, handed to us by our best buddy, WJ Clinton. A government funded
>>sub-minimum wage labor force will be working side by side with union
>>Your European employers don't even have this on the radar screen yet.
>This isn't true.

Yes, Hugh, the same is happening in Denmark - and has been for some years
now. Actually many public institutions like kinder gardens, museums, all
sorts of social institutions etc. would not be able to be run without this
sub-minimum wage workforce.

They work side by side with unionized workers, often doing the same jobs,
but getting either no pay or a very small sum above their usual social
benefits(?). They work there for only 7-9 months, then they have to leave.

The whole setup is ridiculous in many ways:
- it offers no future for the under-paid unemplyed
- it is irrational for the institutions involved (when a new person has
just learned the basics they get kicked out again)
- it puts a very direct pressure on the wages of the unionized workers in
these institutions.
- etc. etc. ad infinitum

Behind this is a setup where the government squeezes the economy of local
municipalities and this way force them to use all sorts of short-cuts
(which they, however, accept without more than token opposition). The idea
is that the government stays free of the direct responsibility for the cuts
- sometimes they even condemn those local councils who make "irresponsible

Since the present social democratic government took "power" some 3 years
ago all this has actually become much worse, while at the same time most
parts of the TU bureaucracy stay silent in order not to rock the boat. The
Minister for Social Affairs is a former member of the Left Socialist party
- a semi-revolutionary organization in the 1970's and early 1980's - and
she really knows how to put the arguments for attacking those "who won't
work", those "who need something to get up for in the morning" etc.

The latest thing is that while all this used to be only directed at certain
groups - especially young people (and there were ways to avoid it) - it now
seems to be compulsory for almost anybody, including drug addicts,
alcoholics, single parents with many children and so on. And the government
(still soc-dem) publicly threaten to take away social welfare for those who

They have just summed up the experiences of the first few years with this
forced un-paid work, and they are quite proud to tell, that it has meant
that many of those who were on social welfare have now found a job. Success!

It is not yet the labor camps, which the danish social democrats set up in
the 1930's, but it is getting closer. And at least the labor camps had the
advantage that you met with other people in a similar situation to your own



Jorn Andersen

Internationale Socialister
Copenhagen, Denmark

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