Workers without Borders: Berlin

On November 3rd, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung's office in Berlin and the regional Dialogue Southeast Europe hosted, in partnership with European Alternatives, a presentation of research results "Workers without borders?"

In addition to the analysis presented, the event brought together experts, journalists, civil society organizations, workers, trade union representatives, and policymakers to discuss the challenges and problems faced by marginalized workers who migrated to Germany. The research shows that the controversial regulation for the Western Balkans contributed to Germany's dependence on the labor force outside the European Union and employers' exploitation of such workers. The overall picture that the results point to is that workers from poorer countries immigrate in ways that are not always regulated to obtain worse employment conditions but better wages in European Union Member States.

Workers who migrate not only from the Western Balkans but also from other countries are often on the front lines of the challenging times we are in, which was further exacerbated by the pandemic of the COVID19 virus. Driven by the vulnerability of workers in different sectors, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and European Alternatives held this meeting to advocate for solving the structural problems affecting workers and to help workers organize to fight for their rights.

On behalf of the organizers, the event was opened by Dr. Ralf Melzer (FES SOE) and Georg Blokus (European Alternatives). The research results were presented by one of the authors of the research, Aleksandra Lekić. Dr. Melzer pointed out:" "It is challenging to find a balance in this area. On the one hand, to make it easier for people in search of a better life and want to leave their homes, and on the other, to improve conditions in the European Union Member States who need this workforce. Over 200 000 people from the Western Balkans leave this region annually. That is approximately 1% of the total population of the region. Those are mostly young educated people who are very valuable to their countries. This brain drain is a big problem."

The participants had the opportunity to hear the experiences of migrant workers in Germany, as well as expert reports on the current situation with labor migration in Germany and the necessary reforms, with the commentary of Rasha Nasr, a member of the German Parliament, and the rapporteur of the parliamentary working group for labor and social issues on the topic labor migrations. The reports were accompanied by work in working groups, which aimed to discuss the issues of work visas and the repression of workers.

The entire research is available online at this link.

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