Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
worth quoting:

While dozens of airport companies in Germany and elsewhere competed for DHL's investment of €300m ($357m, £206m), only a few met these conditions. "In the end Leipzig was the best," says Mr Reinboth, noting that the project is among the largest in post-unification east Germany.

Both labour flexibility and the political will of regional government officials to organise the guarantees, in spite of some local protests, played a role in the investment decision. State subsidies were not crucial to the deal, he insists.

Even though the "jobs themselves are not very attractive" - low-skilled work unloading and reloading aircraft outdoors in the middle of the night - 30,000 people have applied.

As part of a trend common across east Germany, the company struck an "in-house" agreement with a local trade union, ensuring that wages will be 20 per cent below the rates DHL pays in west Germany (see chart).

Access to flexible workers also plays a role for companies locating in Schwerin, 360km north of Leipzig, says Daniela See, director of a Premiere pay-television call centre in the historic city. Average monthly wages for telephone "agents" in the region are only €1,400 but this hardly deters applicants, says Ms See during a tour of the centre, which employs 420 people. "Some of my staff used to work in the local leather factories, others in engineering companies. They are all thirsty to learn, because work is rare."

Harald Ringsdorff, premier of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where Schwerin is located, agrees that economic difficulties in the east are behind the labour flexibility. "Higher living standards in the west make people there very choosy about job opportunities," he says.

Low wages play a lesser role in parts of the east's strongest growth centres in the states of Saxony and Thüringia, where manufacturing jobs per head now outnumber those in several western regions. Yet even there, flexibility counts. Some 122,000 people in Thüringia - every eighth employed resident - commute to work in a neighbouring region, mostly to Bavaria and Hesse in the west.

"Such readiness to go that extra mile to find work could be a lesson to the west," says Michael Behr of Jena university.

Why don't they just send in some thugs to round up anyone who looks strong and able-bodied and put them in work camps?

This New Victorianism - the relentless promotion of Dickensian working practices promoted with a rhetoric of 'flexibility' and 'lessons for the West' - is the most disturbing thing I've read this year.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 05:23:23 AM EST

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