Unions demand creation of new jobs through reduction of overtime

Given that about 1.8 billion paid overtime hours were worked in Germany in 1998 - according to figures released in January 1999 - trade unions estimate that a substantial reduction of overtime could create about 400,000 new jobs.

In January 1999 the Federal Employment Service (Bundesanstalt für Arbeit, BfA) announced that about 1.83 billion paid overtime hours were worked in Germany in 1998. Arithmetically, this amount of overtime would be equivalent to 1.2 million jobs.

Against the background of persistent mass unemployment, with more than 4 million people jobless, German trade unions have called the enormous amount of overtime hours worked a "social scandal" and demanded a substantial reduction. In a statement, the president of the German Federation of Trade Unions (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB), Dieter Schulte, declared that, even though some overtime would always be necessary for economic and seasonal reasons, there is another important element of permanent overtime which can be reduced. According to calculations made by the economic department of the IG Metall metalworkers' union, 400,000 new jobs could be created if overtime was reduced by a third and another third was compensated by additional free time.

In addition, the president of the Public Services, Transport and Traffic Union (Gewerkschaft Öffentliche Dienste, Transport und Verkehr,ÖTV), Herbert Mai demanded a limitation of overtime within collective agreements. According to ÖTV, a 50% reduction of overtime in public services could create about 70,000 new jobs.

The unions stated that they would put the issue of overtime on the agenda at the next tripartite talks within the national "alliance for jobs" (DE9812286N) in February 1999.

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