GHDI logo

The Labor Minister Welcomes the Millionth Guest Worker (October 30, 1964)

Only four years after the start of systematic recruitment, Labor Minister Theodor Blank marked the arrival of the millionth “guest worker” and described these foreign workers as essential to the success of the German economy. Here, he expresses his wish for migrant laborers to become a permanent part of the workforce.

print version     return to document list previous document      next document

page 1 of 2

One Million Guest Workers: An Essential Prerequisite for the Success of the German Economy

Almost one million guest workers are employed in the Federal Republic. Thus one million people from other countries help keep our economy in gear and running at full throttle. From year to year, our economy has become more and more dependent on the help of guest workers. Today they are an essential prerequisite for the success of the German economy.

These one million people in German workplaces contribute to the continued growth of our production, the maintenance of stable prices, and the preservation of our prestige on the world market. The role of guest workers in the labor market will certainly become even more important in the coming years. The desire for foreign labor is still strong in many sectors of our economy. Our own labor pool, if we can believe the statistics, will shrink even more in the coming years. The much-talked about shifts in the age distribution of our population will also reduce the size of the next generation. Only twenty-two percent of our population is under fifteen years of age. This figure puts the Federal Republic in second-to-last place in Europe. This situation alone makes it clear that we will continue to depend on foreign labor in the years to come.

But recruiting and placing guest workers also entails considerable difficulties. This is most noticeable in Italy. Today the Federal Agency for Job Placement and Unemployment Insurance is already making a sustained effort to find new workers on the peripheries of Europe, in places like Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Turkey. If we want to keep our economy in gear, we are dependent on guest workers. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank our helpers from abroad for the contributions they have made thus far.

It is no longer possible to imagine economic life in the Federal Republic without guest workers. They are fully entitled to partake of the social benefits available in the Federal Republic. Without a doubt, they are also doing their best to meet the high demands – in terms of both quantity and quality – placed on the German economy, both at home and abroad. Good wages and their own frugality give foreign workers an opportunity to support their dependents. Additionally, through their work here, they can also acquire valuable skills that can benefit their own economies when they go back home.

To be sure, it is sometimes difficult to get settled [here], to adjust to different socio-economic conditions, the German work rhythm, foreign surroundings, and different customs and habits. And at times there is surely friction with colleagues and other Germans. I would like to urgently appeal to my German compatriots to show understanding for the difficulties faced by guest workers and to avoid rash criticisms of their customs and habits.

It is my wish that it will become easier for them to adjust to life here. The federal government is doing everything it can to continue to improve the situation of foreign workers and to satisfy their wishes as far as possible. We are particularly concerned with bringing their families over. I have no illusions; it will take some time for this to be achieved. But I can assure guest workers that we will do everything we can to make their lives here as tolerable as possible. The 200 DM in loans granted by the Federal Agency for Job Placement and Unemployment Insurance for the building of workers’ residences has already proven a valuable source of assistance. The Nuremberg office has allocated another DM 50 million in loans for the construction of family apartments for guest workers.

first page < previous   |   next > last page