News from Berlin and Germany, 24th May 2023

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany



“We are too often underestimated”

Recently, the Federal Council approved a law to give people with disabilities greater access to the labour market. Germany still has a lot of catching up to do in terms of vocational inclusion. Josephine Dröge, 25, from Berlin, has had spastic paralysis in her legs since birth. She manages her everyday life alone and uses a wheelchair for longer journeys. But the path to professional life has not been easy for the young woman. In an interview, the trained office management assistant talks about her professional experience in the catering company Handfest. She concludes by saying “It’s important to involve people. It also gives a greater sense of belonging.” Source: rbb24

Climate activists blocked Deutsche Bank in Berlin

Fridays for Future and activists from “Parents Against the Fossil Industry”, among others, protested last week in front of the Deutsche Bank headquarters on Friedrichstraße in Berlin. Activists from Scientist Rebellion and the Last Generation were also on site. A spokesperson for Finanzwende, who also took part in the protest on Friedrichstraße in front of the “Quartier der Zukunft,” said: “Deutsche Bank is at the forefront of greenwashing. If climate protection goes down the drain, Deutsche Bank wins financially.” Niklas Quidde (Fridays for Future) called on customers to cancel their accounts with Deutsche Bank. Source: bZ


Nationwide strikes in retail

Without them, there is no business. Last Friday, employees of H&M, IKEA, Primark, Netto, Rewe, Zara, Kaufland and Galeria, among others, stopped to work in many places in Baden-Württemberg, Frankfurt am Main, Kassel, Hamburg and the Hanover region. In Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia they already went on strike on Wednesday. The reason is the so far unsuccessful collective bargaining for the almost three million employees in the retail and mail order trade, which the service trade union ver.di is currently conducting regionally. The workers want to push through their share of the retailers’ rising profits and compensation for inflation. Source: jW

A tragedy that no one looks at

Last week, the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden calculated more than one in five people in Germany is affected by poverty or is threatened by slipping into it. That means 20.9 percent of Germany’s population: more than 17 million people, almost as many as live in the whole of North Rhine-Westphalia. If this were a natural catastrophe such as an earthquake, and North Rhine-Westphalia would have made almost all the inhabitants homeless, we wouldn’t hear about anything else for weeks. However, when millions of people have too little money to make a decent living, it’s just everyday life. Source: taz

Police violence ineffectively recorded

Excessive police violence is rarely dealt with in Germany. This is the conclusion of a study by the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. The research team interviewed more than 3,300 victims as well as police officers, judges, and staff of victim counselling centres. Conflict situations or identity checks were frequently mentioned, together with anger as well as loss of trust in the rule of law. Also, while in some countries there is transparent recording of how often and in what form the police use violence or how often people die in the context of police operations, there are statistical gaps in Germany. Source: dw

IGLU children’s reading study: the German results

A new international comparative study shows the state of children’s reading ability in the fourth grade. For German education policy, the results of the “IGLU 2021” study are once again not good news: Germany is only in the middle of the pack and children’s reading skills have recently dropped significantly. Moreover, the performance gaps between high-performing and low-performing children are high. “In twenty years, practically nothing has changed in terms of educational justice and equal opportunities in Germany,” the authors of the study conclude. Another worrying finding is that a quarter of children now do not reach the minimum standard needed for a further successful school career. Source: tagesspiegel

A man for all seasons

Who is the new State Secretary in Habeck’s Ministry of Economics? The 57-year-old Green from Frankfurt am Main is not easily pigeonholed. Phillip Nimmermann is expected to save the controversial energy transition in the heating sector for Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck. The economist has proved himself in the role of a crisis manager for particularly difficult cases in the Green Party’s area of responsibility such as the privatisation of the ailing HSH Nordbank. The fact that, as a former top banker, he can do more than politics and did not stand out as particularly ideology-driven is precisely what brought him to the new post. Source: tagesschau

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