The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Work More ... Earn Less

Mar 19, 2007

Overtime work is increasing in Germany. The experts explain that this is a sign of good economic times.

In reality it’s only a sign of extra exploitation. In many workplaces, workers put in more hours without any increase in pay. This first occurred at the end of 2003 at the tire manufacturer Continental and the maker of medical equipment B. Braun. Then very profitable companies started doing it, like Siemens, Daimler-Chrysler, Opel (GM), etc. At other companies, when workers work overtime, the hours aren’t paid for–just put in a “bank,” to be used later.

Even when overtime is paid, it often doesn’t make up for the decline in real wages, which have been going down due to inflation. The Hans Böckler Foundation estimates that in 2006 real wages were down 0.7%, following a decline of 1.5% in 2005 and 1.1% in 2004. And, in 2007, since the national sales tax increased by 3%, going from 16% to 19% on whatever workers buy, workers’ purchasing power will go further down.