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Is that fair? – Only 1.35 euros hourly wage for people with disabilities

Lukas Krämer (28) built water taps for five years. Six and a half hours a day for just under 180 euros a month. “That is exploitation,” says the young mentally handicapped man from Trier (Rhineland-Palatinate). With a petition under the hashtag #Adjustment he calls for the minimum wage in workshops for people with disabilities.

But is that a realistic requirement? In Germany, 320,000 men and women with mental, physical and psychological disabilities work in over 2,900 workshops for the disabled. They produce goods or offer services for almost all industries. This ranges from car companies to small, social start-ups.

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The Schmidt Spiele company also uses the services offered by workshops for the disabled. “For example, we have catalogs produced there,” says spokesman Tim Keppke. “There is no financial incentive for companies.”

Nationwide, the annual turnover of the workshops is around eight billion euros. “In many workshops, employees have to work 30 to 36 hours a week. If a deadline has to be met, sometimes longer, ”says Silke Georgi from the JOBinklusive project, which is also committed to fairer pay.

Goal: Participation in working life

But Jana Niehaus from the Federal Association of Workshops for Disabled People e. V. explains: “Workshops for disabled people are non-profit organizations. You are not pursuing any economic profit targets. “

The task of the workshops is to enable people with disabilities to participate in working life and, in some cases, to prepare them for the general labor market. It is an employment relationship similar to that of an employee: voluntary, with supervision, fewer obligations – and significantly less wages.

The employees therefore mostly still receive basic security from the office or a pension due to full disability. Workshops cannot finance a minimum wage on their own.

“The disabled are seen as cheap labor,” criticizes Lukas Krämer. “The average hourly wage of 1.35 euros is pocket money.” As a four-year-old he fell ill with meningitis and nerve tracts were damaged.

He failed to graduate from the special needs school and ended up in a workshop for the disabled. Today he works as a YouTuber, video editor and social media officer for a member of the Bundestag.

Krämer earns 1,300 euros and is an exception. Less than one percent of those employed in workshops for the disabled manage to jump into the general labor market.

Many companies that are legally obliged to employ severely disabled people prefer to pay a compensation levy. Quite a few people with disabilities, on the other hand, need the special protection that the workshops offer.

The Association of Workshop Councils in Germany fears that the introduction of the minimum wage would only increase economic pressure on workshops for the disabled.

The Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs supports the demand for fair wages and has commissioned a study. “By mid-2023, among other things. alternative remuneration models are being developed, “says a spokesman on BILD-am Sonntag’s request.

“It takes way too long. We need money now, ”says Lukas Krämer. Silke Georgi adds: “A living wage is a sign of respect for work done.”

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