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German Trade Unions Oppose the Dismantling of the Welfare State (March 5, 1997)

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2. Reduce Work Hours and Increase Autonomy as Regards Work Time

In order to distribute the existing volume of work fairly, and thereby secure and create jobs, the DGB unions strive to implement additional cuts in work hours. We want to give employees greater autonomy when it comes to work time. It will then be possible to bring work and private life into better harmony.

We advocate:

- Various ways of reducing individual work hours. This also includes further reductions in collective work hours. The 35-hour work week must be implemented at a macroeconomic level. In the future, we need to implement further individual and collective work time reductions without jeopardizing the subsistence of low- and middle-income earners. We need new ways of doing this.
- Preventing the extension of work hours.
- Cutting overtime hours and compensating unavoidable extra work with time off. We are seeking guaranteed annual and lifetime work-hour accounts in order to offer employees greater control over their time.
- Combining full-time work with periods of part-time work, parental leave, and continued training, so that women and men can better reconcile paid and unpaid employment.
- Offering more part-time jobs that offer social security benefits and meet the needs of men and women.
- Developing and implementing new types of shorter work lifespans through semi-retirement.

General part-time arrangements can only be made in agreement with the unions.

3. Secure and Modernize Vocational Training and Continuing Education

We advocate the retention and further development of the dual education system. The available options for future-oriented apprenticeships must correspond with the demand and must be equally accessible to young women and men. The shortage in business apprenticeship positions must be rectified. Vocational training, continuing education, and advanced training programs must be linked and modernized.

To this end, the DGB and the unions will exert pressure on private and public employers, using all the options available to workplace advocacy groups, collective bargaining policy, and regional structural policies.

We advocate:

- Comprehensive burden sharing between businesses that train apprentices and those that do not through solidarity-based financing for training programs; this would include legally established pay-as-you-go financing.
- Combining work, vocational training, and continuing education in order to provide adequate training for all. Young people without professional training and semi-skilled workers would thereby be given more opportunities to earn full qualifications.
- The further development of job descriptions and the creation of new apprenticed trades.
- Continuing education guidelines that secure and reinforce public responsibility for continuing education and, in particular, ensure that workers with minimal qualifications will continue to have a fair chance of finding a job in the future.
- A continuing education initiative within companies in order to impart the qualifications necessary in the information age and in our service society.
- The equivalence of vocational, general, and political education, and the permeability of different educational tracks.
- The reform of university studies in order to combine university studies with vocational options.

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