Economy: Employer President sees difficult times

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    According to the Employer President in Germany, the “fat years” are over for the time being. He criticizes the Verdi strikes in seaports. His statements, however, met with sharp criticism.

    Employer President Rainer Dulger sees Germany facing difficult times. “The fat years are over for the time being,” Dulger said on Wednesday evening to journalists in Berlin.

    Germany had tumbled through an “oasis of prosperity and well-being” for many years. “But that’s over now,” Dulger said. “We now have to talk about it together more and more frequently: What are we doing to keep our economy running?” Germany is only strong if the economy is strong.

    Dulger also criticized warning strikes by the Verdi union in seaports – at a time when companies urgently needed materials. He was very dissatisfied with this. Maybe you need a “national emergency” that also breaks the right to strike, said Dulger. But he was by no means in favor of restricting the right to strike. This is one of the fundamental rights. In a collective bargaining dispute between Verdi and the Central Association of German Seaport Companies, port workers largely paralyzed the handling of container and cargo ships in major North Sea ports with a 24-hour warning strike.

    Verdi: «Anti-democratic attitude»

    The statements met with sharp criticism from Verdi. “This is an expression of an anti-democratic attitude,” said Verdi boss Frank Werneke on Thursday to the news portal “The Pioneer”. Werneke spoke of a “very, very questionable formulation” by Dulgers. Apparently Dulger dreams of “that there is an authoritarian state that bludgeons workers’ rights”. Werneke defended the actions of the dockers. “The purpose of strikes is to put economic pressure on workers’ demands that unions have a chance of being implemented at all,” said the Verdi boss. “Because of our beautiful blue eyes, we have never gotten anything at the negotiating table, but only if we are assertive and, in case of doubt, able to deal with conflict.”

    Regarding the concerted action by Chancellor Olaf Scholz with unions, employers and experts on Monday, Dulger said that no collective bargaining would be held there. Scholz had invited to the meeting in view of the rapid rise in prices. Dulger said there will have to be a mix of different things. He mentioned tax breaks and higher transfer payments for the needy. Many small steps are necessary. Dulger also mentioned a stabilization of the supply chains.

    Three big challenges

    The President of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations described the economic situation as difficult. He named digitization, decarbonization and demographic change as major challenges. In addition, there were the consequences of the pandemic and the Ukraine war. This leads to supply bottlenecks for important raw materials. “We have full order books and are still in the middle of the crisis,” said Dulger.

    He again called for a moratorium on social spending, taxes and the supply chain law for the economy. More flexibility, more speed and more intergenerational justice are needed. “Now is the time to turn the stones.” Dulger sees the lack of skilled workers as an increasingly big problem.