Germany turns to temporary foreign workers to ease staffing shortages at airports | Germany
Germany plans to launch a temporary foreign worker scheme to make up for acute staff shortages at the country’s airports over the summer months, ministers have said.
The move would allow German airport service providers to recruit several thousand temporary workers in Turkey for several months from July, the Bild newspaper reported on Sunday.
Labor Minister Hubertus Heil said his government planned to “allow the entry of urgently needed foreign personnel for temporary work in Germany”. “We want to exclude all forms of social dumping and exploitation,” added the Social Democratic politician.
Employers should pay workers collectively agreed wages and provide them with housing, Heil said.
Airports across Europe are struggling to readapt as demand for international travel rebounds from a two-year pandemic hiatus this summer.
A recent study by the German Economic Institute (IW) found that German airports were short of 7,200 ground and flight attendants after many workers left their jobs during the pandemic and have since found work in other airports. other sectors, for example with railway companies or in online retail. .
Despite Germany kurzarbeit or short-time working compensation scheme, designed to allow a faster rebound from a crisis, the number of people working in airport services fell by 15% between 2018-19 and 2020-21.
Citing government circles, Bild said ministers expected to face a shortage of 2,000 to 3,000 staff with a “four-digit” number of temporary foreigners. A Department of Labor spokesman said Monday that no further details could be announced while talks were ongoing.
A Home Office spokesperson said temporary foreign workers would not be recruited to work in airport security screening, which requires longer training times and higher security clearance levels , but more low-skilled roles such as baggage handling.
“We will make it possible that temporary workers from abroad can be used for example for baggage handling,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told Bild. Even those roles involved a security clearance that lasted about two weeks, his spokesperson said Monday.
Bild used the term gastarbeiter or “guest workers” for foreign staff the government was trying to recruit, a reference to migrant workers from Italy, Greece, Turkey and other countries who were sought out to work in the booming economy of the Germany from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s.
The term is now considered outdated as it seems to dismiss the possibility for migrant workers to settle and contribute to German society.
Over the weekend, passengers at Dusseldorf and Cologne airports again reported long queues at security gates, while Hamburg airport struggled to store luggage stuck on its premises. Major European air transport hubs such as Amsterdam Schiphol and London Heathrow have had to cancel hundreds of flights this year as they struggle to manage the flow of passengers and baggage due to staff shortages.
German Lufthansa is canceling 2,200 flights in July and August at Frankfurt and Munich airports, and the airline’s chief operating officer, Detlef Kayser, told the Welt newspaper he did not expect current shortages are met by 2023.