Low-Wage Work in Germany
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Title Page, Copyright
About the Authors
Introduction: The German Story
By any reasonable standard definition of “low-wage work,” about a quarter of American wage earners are low-wage workers. The corresponding figure is smaller, sometimes much smaller, in other comparable advanced capitalist countries...
Surely not in Germany!” one may be tempted to answer when asked about low pay in Germany. And indeed, Germany was for many years regarded as a country that by international standards had a particularly low wage spread—that is, relatively small differences...
1. Low-Wage Work in Germany: An Overview
Germany was long regarded as a country with relatively low income inequality. According to studies by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD 1996, 1997), income inequality in Germany was still declining...
2. Pay in Customer Services Under Pressure: Call Center Agents
Call centers have certain features that set them apart from the other industries under study. They do not in fact constitute an industry as such, but a specific form of work organization. Telephone customer inquiries, which formerly used to be scattered among...
3. Wild West Conditions in Germany?! Low-Skill Jobs in Food Processing
Wild West Conditions in Germany” ran the headline of a January 2005 article in the German weekly STERN on the German meat processing industry. The quotation came from Danish trade union boss Peter Bostrup, who had said, referring to Tulip...
4. The Polarization of Working Conditions: Cleaners and Nursing Assistants in Hospitals
The hospital sector is not one of the typical low-wage sectors, but it is traditionally characterized by low wage differentiation, a core feature of “German capitalism” (Streeck 1997). For a long period, even the two groups of employees...
5. Still Lost and Forgotten? The Work of Hotel Room Attendants in Germany
In Franz Kafka’s novel The Castle, written in the early 1920s, Pepi the chambermaid wrestles with her fate: “As a chambermaid one did in time come to feel one was quite lost and forgotten; it was like working down a...
6. Low-Paid but Committed to the Industry: Salespeople in the Retail Sector
Reports on the Wal-Mart system do not sound at all unfamiliar to German ears. In Germany, as in the United States, large retail companies are growing primarily by squeezing out smaller retailers, and that growth is also being achieved by means...
7. Summary and Conclusions
Germany has long been noted for its well-balanced income structure. Between the 1980s and the early 1990s, the share of low-paid workers actually declined, albeit only slightly, against the general international trend. In most...