Social hardship among Berlin taxi drivers

Taxi and Uber in Berlin: Wild West arbitrariness hits employees

24 April 2020 by Klaus Meier 

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In a press release, the service trade union ver.di draws attention to the acute plight of many taxi drivers as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

23.04.2020 ver.di - The taxi industry in the capital has been hit hard by the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. Compared to the previous year, turnover has slumped by 80 per cent to 95 per cent in some cases. The only option left for legally operating companies is to apply for short-time work benefits for their employees or to lay them off.

ver.di has observed that many companies are leaving their employees to suffer the consequences of the crisis alone. Larger companies are closing down and employees are being sent home without pay. Many drivers are also not applying for short-time working benefits. One reason for this is that many employees do not have a formal written employment contract. Wages are often negotiated individually and are based on the turnover achieved. Undeclared work also plays a major role. However, if companies want to apply for short-time working, figures for the previous months must be submitted in order to calculate entitlements. However, if the company has bypassed the social security system to line its own pockets, no plausible comparative figures can be presented. In order to avoid coming under the scrutiny of the Financial Control of Undeclared Labour, the employers’ liability insurance associations and social security institutions, these companies therefore refrain from submitting applications and contacting the authorities. In July 2016, a study commissioned by the Berlin Senate revealed that 77 per cent of Berlin taxi companies had submitted economically implausible figures.

"ver.di demands that the authorities responsible for combating undeclared work take action. The basis for calculating short-time work compensation must at least correspond to the statutory minimum wage. In the opinion of ver.di, the waiting time at bus stops should also be remunerated as working time. Compensatory social benefits such as housing benefit and supplementary unemployment benefit II should also be granted in the long term without means testing. However, these would only be the first steps towards limiting hardship. To ensure that taxi drivers earn a decent income for themselves and their families, ver.di is calling for fixed contracts for all employees and a collective agreement that is based on the level of the BVG," says Susanne Meinke, responsible ver.di trade union secretary

Source: Ver.di : Soziale Not bei Berliner Taxifahrer/innen

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