Deformation of social security and housing rights
Date: 27 June, 2004
Source: Witten Tenats Association/Habiatat Net, Knut Unger
In spite of mass protests and the catastrophic loss of the Social Democrats at the EU elections German red-green government keeps the plans to cut the benefits for unemployed to minimum welfare level, including the housing costs. The minister for economy and labour will not set up legal regulations which could protect unemployed tenants against cuts of their hosing subventions. At the moment it seems that local authorities will decide about housing limits by their own. This opens some opportinities for local struggles.
– Currently the local regulations only allow subventions below the market rents. Millions of unemployed will be affected with the beginning of the next year. They can receive orders to reduce their housing costs within 6 months. After that their subventions can be cut seriously. They are not allowed to rent new flats without agreement of the job centres. We are fearing many evictions, increasing numbers of homeless and urban exclusion of the unemployed. The implications of these laws are a total contradiction to many other policies and state programmes. “Social integration” has been replaced by “integration to labour market by reducing wages”. Last week the metal workrs union was forced to agree to a increase of labour time of 5 housrs/weel without wages.
– Because of the continuing protests, but more because many unclear regulations, especially regarding the refunding of the municipal housing costs, and becuse of political games by the conservatives, it is still not sure that the social destruction laws can be implemented at January 1.
– There is no parliamentarian opposition. Trade unions, leftists and social movements are planning to deepen the protest, probably with highlights in November. At the same time we have to prepare advocacy and legal proceedings without knowing the juridical basis, because everything changes. Probably there will be contradictions to constitutional rights and international human rights obligations.
– Meanwhile it seems sure that Social Democrats’ votes will be reduced to historical minimums at the next elections (local in NRW in September, regional in May, then national). Conservatives and liberals will take over majoritiy at all levels. The traditional Social Democrat Party, which had been a main government force in many regions for decades, has destructed herself. Trade Unionists are working in the founding of a new social party.
– Hopes that national protests would be accomponied by European mobilizations have not been realized so far. After the heavy enlargement of the EU and the last elections the forces for a social Europe seem weaker than before.