German labor minister presents plan to support companies in economic slowdown

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BERLIN, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- German Minister for Labor Hubertus Heil was planning a draft law to support employees and companies undergoing structural change and protect them from the risks of an economic downturn, the minister announced on Tuesday.

"In the event that this is not just an economic slowdown, we also want to prepare ourselves for a crisis," said Heil during a trip to the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

The minister presented the main features of a law on future work, which he was planning to present in the fall.

The new employment law would provide for regulations for short-time work and a stronger promotion of further education in Germany, according to Heil.

Heil wanted to facilitate the use of short-time work allowance after the instrument helped to prevent a massive increase in unemployment in Germany during the 2008 financial crisis.

In addition, the minister wanted to combine short-time work with qualifications "wherever possible".

According to the Federal Employment Agency (BA), the German labor market had so far resisted the economic downturn.

Many German companies, however, were still having problems finding suitable personnel and the Institute for Employment Research registered 1.39 million vacancies in Germany in the second quarter of 2019.

The German trade union IG Metall praised the labor minister's plans, which should be implemented "quickly", the union's president Joerg Hofmann told the German editorial network (RND).

"I welcome the fact that labor minister Heil has taken up IG Metall's core demand to combine short-time work and qualification," stated Hofmann.

The Federation of German Employers' Associations in the Metal and Electrical Engineering Industries (Gesamtmetall) also responded positively to the proposed employment law.

"If the labor minister makes sure that the short-time work toolbox from the crisis is ready when a crisis occurs, this is very welcome," Gesamtmetall leader Oliver Zander told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung.

The Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA) welcomed the planned easing of short-time work but warned that "if further training measures are taken, the initiative must always come from the company and orient itself towards its needs".

Heil's plans would also provide for employees and their employers to be better prepared for the upheavals brought about by technological change.

The Institute for Employment Research (IAB) had estimated that every fourth job in Germany could become superfluous as a result of new technologies.

A recent study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) estimated that by 2030, around 75,000 jobs in Germany would be lost in the industry sector for drive technology. Enditem

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