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Migration: Obligation to work for asylum seekers: only in individual cases?

Migration: Obligation to work for asylum seekers: only in individual cases?

The dispute over the payment card for asylum seekers is not yet over; a debate is already breaking out about whether refugees should be required to work – which some districts want to do.

After some East German districts made advances, a dispute broke out over an extension of work obligations for asylum seekers. Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) believes such a work obligation makes sense in individual cases. Individual cases are not enough for the Union in the Bundestag. Trade unions and Pro Asyl are strictly against such moves.

District council president Reinhard Sager had already called for compulsory work in the autumn. “Anyone who is healthy and not handicapped has to work. There has to be a duty to work,” he told the “Bild” newspaper at the time. He mentioned community work or work in the catering industry.

80 cents per hour

In the Saale-Orla district in eastern Thuringia, asylum seekers are now to be required to work four hours per day. The refugees are supposed to do simple jobs for 80 cents per hour. If they refuse, they risk having their benefits cut. In Saxony-Anhalt, some districts were also considering how compulsory work for refugees could be organized, said Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU) on rbb24 Inforadio.

Heil pointed out that it is current law that municipalities can require asylum seekers who live in shared accommodation to do community service. “In individual cases it may also make sense to employ people in collective accommodation during the sometimes long waiting period,” Heil told the “Bild” newspaper (Thursday). However, sustainable labor market integration will not be successful.

Activities after three months at the earliest

Paragraph 5 of the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act states literally: “Able to work, non-employed beneficiaries who are no longer of compulsory school age are obliged to take up a job opportunity that is made available to them.”

However, this currently applies to charitable activities for residents of collective accommodation – at a wage of 80 cents per hour. Activities in the private sector are only possible after three months at the earliest.

CDU: “Don’t ask too much”

The parliamentary secretary of the Union faction in the Bundestag, Thorsten Frei (CDU), demanded: “The obligation should by no means be limited to individual cases.” People would get a fair trial, humane social benefits and support in the event of illness, Frei told the “Rheinische Post”. “If we in return ask these people to give something back to society in the form of community service, that is not too much to ask. Quite the opposite.” The legal principles should be consistently applied.

Heil said his goal was to get people who had found protection here into long-term work subject to social security contributions. “That’s why I’m relying on the job turbo, with which we can intensify the support provided by the job centers, determine the skills and qualifications of the refugees and thus make concrete job offers.”

The SPD chairwoman Saskia Esken has spoken out against requiring asylum seekers to do community service. “I don’t think anything of it,” she told the “Thüringer Allgemeine”. Similar measures have been tried unsuccessfully with the long-term unemployed in the past. “In view of the shortage of skilled workers, it is now much better to get refugees into employment subject to social security contributions more quickly and easily.”

Nahles surprised

In fact, the possibility of compulsory work is being used “rather cautiously” by municipalities, as the CEO of the Federal Employment Agency, Andrea Nahles, said in Nuremberg. Nahles was surprised by District Council President Sager’s initiative. Sager had again demanded in the “Bild”: “Financial support from the state must not be unconditional. Anyone who stays in Germany for a longer period of time must work.”

Trade unions and the refugee organization Pro Asyl were strictly against such demands. “Compulsory work for refugees is another insubstantial highlight of the debates on the backs of refugees,” said DGB board member Anja Piel to the German Press Agency in Berlin. You could be entrusted with charitable activities in return for compensation. “Otherwise they are largely denied access to the labor market.”

DGB: Discussion harms and divides

Piel said that if someone is placed in work, it must be good employment with social security. “Forcing people seeking protection into the low-wage sector and exposing them to exploitative conditions must under no circumstances become a business model.” Problem cases, for example in parcel services, in seasonal work, in trucks and in construction, are well known. Discussions about work obligations further fueled the charged atmosphere in the country. “This is damaging and divisive,” said Piel.

“The debate suggests that we are dealing with people who are unwilling to work, while they are usually not allowed to work at all,” said Pro Asyl’s refugee policy spokesman, Tareq Alaows, to the dpa. “This is inhumane and racist.” Alaows instead called for the work bans for asylum seekers to be lifted. “Many wait months for a work permit.” In order to integrate people more quickly and better into the job market, their qualifications and certificates should be recognized quickly and language course offerings should be expanded.

Source: Stern

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