Dirk Richter from the German Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) intervened as a guest speaker on the implications that the recent rise in the number of refugees coming to Germany has had on the work of the Agency and its staff members.
Refugee integration has far-reaching consequences for public administration staff
He said that the increase of refugees and asylum seekers has been a challenge for the Agency especially because of increased workloads and additional burdens for staff members. He noted that 3600 new positions were created especially in the fields of career advising, job placement and asylum case processing to order to cope with the increase of refugees and asylum seekers. He added that investments are needed to further train Agency staff in new competences they need, such as giving support to traumatised refugees.
Extensions of working lives can bring opportunities and challenges
Philippe Seidel, policy officer at the AGE Platform, held an expert presentation on challenges and chances that longer working lives can bring to older workers. He noted that employees’ work-life balance and longer working lives and intergenerational knowledge transfers in companies may be squared effectively and efficiently by means of partial retirement schemes. He noted however that partial retirements can involve downsides, too: Too many schemes currently do not sufficiently reach low-skilled workers and/or are likely to lead to a precarisation of older people’s work.
Unknown too often: the EU-wide emergency number 112 for medical assistance, the police and fire brigade
Benoît Vivier from the European Emergency Number Association (EENA) spoke on the functioning of the European Emergency Number 112 which, free of charge and on a 24/7 basis, connects anywhere in Europe automatically to a directory for medical assistance, the fire brigade and the police. He reported that the number 112 is only known by 27% of the EU’s population, which represents a great obstacle to making it work in practice. A discussion was held on whether awareness raising can be promoted by trade unions too.
Privatisations in water supply often yield negative results
Finally, Peter de Paepe from De Watergroep delivered a keynote presentation on problems related to privatisations of water supply providers. Making references to cases where privatisations yielded negative results in terms of service provision and working conditions, he underscored the importance of pushing the European Commission to acknowledge that only public water supply can guarantee a functioning right to water and sanitation for citizens.
Picture: CESI Trade council ‘Local & regional administrations’ © CESI 2016