As Germany’s next coalition-based cabinet begins to take shape, there is still no concrete news on the employment status of platform workers in the country.
A 12-page paper published in October sets out a framework agreement on policy objectives between the coalition partners – the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP).
Though the paper includes a commitment to raising the minimum wage to €12 an hour, setting part-time roles at a minimum of ten hours a week, and reforming the basic social security structure (a target of both the SPD and the Greens), much of the language is rather vague.
The closest thing to a commitment to policies proposed by a document from the SPD-headed federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs earlier this year, setting out priorities and recommended solutions, comes under the third chapter, headed “Respect and opportunities in the modern world of work”. It says the best foundation for good work is “a work environment that is safe and secure and that offers flexibility”.
It then refers to many workers being like “entrepreneurs ready to break ground in times of upheaval, but they also expect security in order to be able to engage in development”.
The SPD’s Olaf Scholz (pictured), vice-chancellor under Angela Merkel since 2018, is expected to be named her successor as chancellor. He is a former labour minister – albeit more than a decade ago – and before the election committed the SPD to reform of the laws governing platform workers.
It is thought Hubertus Heil, also of the SPD, will retain his position as labour minister, after a strong performance during the Covid-19 crisis. This may strengthen the resolve for labour reform, as the policy is likely to receive support from the second largest partner, the Greens.
Officials have emphasised that cabinet posts will not be decided until coalition negotiations are concluded, but there have been indications given that the agreement could be announced as early as this week.
The SPD told PlatformsIntelligence that the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) – the SPD’s partner in government from 2013 until this new coalition – hindered previous attempts to reform the status of platform workers. However, poor results for the CDU/CSU in the election mean its influence is likely to be diminished as it becomes merely an opposition party.
– Pádraig Floyd PlatformsIntelligence contributing writer