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German finance minister demands better working conditions at Deutsche Post, Amazon

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Staff Writer | May 8, 2018
The German finance minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) has demanded better working conditions for staff at the postal services company Deutsche Post DHL Group and Amazon.
Olaf Scholz
Germany   One of several controversial policies
During an appearance on the public broadcaster "ARD", Scholz attacked Deutsche Post DHL Group for firing employees who had taken more than a limit of 20 sick days in two years set by company management.

The practice is one of several controversial policies at the former state-owned postal service which were recently unveiled by a widely-publicized report in the newspaper "BILD".

Scholz announced that he would "react immediately" by taking all measures in his power to push for better working conditions. Although Deutsche Post DHL Group was first privatized in 1995, the federal government still retains a seat on the Bonn-based company's supervisory board.

The German Social Democrat (SPD) politician also criticized the U.S. logistics company Amazon for setting another negative example with its treatment of workers in the wider postal services industry.

According to Scholz, Amazon was in "urgent need" of a worker's council and a collective wage agreement.

Defying a long-standing German tradition of collective bargaining between employer- and employee representatives, Amazon has so far refused to concede any ground in both of these areas.

The company's uncompromising stance has led to several strikes at its logistics centers in the country during recent years.

At the same time, the finance minister vowed to push back against fixed term contracts in a host of government agencies and organizations as well.

Scholz said that it would be hypocritical for the government to create legislation aimed at reducing precarious employment in Germany if did not address the same issues in the public sector first.

"I have ordered an examination of the number of all fixed term contracts whose temporary nature is not justified by the nature of the work in all agencies of the federal government", Scholz said.

Reiner Hoffman, president of the Federation of German Trade Unions (DGB) welcomed Scholz' comments concerning working conditions in the postal services industry.

Hoffman described policies which made offers of employment conditional on the health of staff as "morally reprehensible."