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Flexibility and Sanctions

Flexibility and sanctions are urged by the red-green German government to counter unemployment that nears 5 million. The unemployed are scapegoated for misguided neoliberal policies benefiting capital and corporations.
Flexibility and Sanctions

Flexibility on the Labor Market cannot be Enforced by Sanctions

Tightening Reasonableness Doesn't Create a Single Job

By AK Vienna Press

[This July 30, 2003 article from AK Vienna press is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.akwien.at/index_13692.htm.]

Every summer the economy hatches a "mobility debate". Christoph Klein, a leader in AK Vienna, criticizes the latest ideas of the economic chamber on expanded flexibility of the labor market. "Mobility on the labor market cannot be improved with proposals like tightening reasonableness criteria. Only true framing conditions help." People are flexible enough when the framing conditions are right - possibility of child care, balanced relation between working time and travel time and between expense and income.

"More than 200,000 people commute daily to work in Vienna," Klein says. The situation will not change - not even through sanctions - if these framing conditions are not considered and only low-paying jobs are offered. In Klein's words, "no mother willo accept a job if her child is left unattended. Sanctions will not accomplish this." A tightening of reasonableness criteria doesn't create work any more than a further lowering of non-wage labor costs for seniors or complete abolition of protection from unlawful dismissals.

"Very different things must be done for relaxation on the labor market", Klein says and urges more funds for an active labor market policy and for trainiing and retraining, more money for streets and rails, a tax reform that really makes life easier for employees, no additional cross-border agreements and rigorous combatting of smuggtler enterprises.

Klein doesn't set great store in the proposals of the economic chamber to increase the employment of older workers. "It always goes in the same direction: older should be cheaper and dismissed more easily by firms", Klein crfiticizes. No proposals come from employers on maintaining the health and productivity of older employees, keeping their know-how at the current state and what firms can do to give jobs for seniors."

Firms do not adequately utilize existing possibilities in urging further flexibility of working hours. Klein rejects an income cut, the proposal of the economic chamber. "The demand for a normal 10-hour work day means that employees must work overtime and lose the bonus."

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