The industry is proposing to increase the weekly working time to 42 hours in order to solve the skilled worker problem. Ex-Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel shares this view – and says why Germans will have to work longer in the future.

Former SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel believes it is necessary to extend weekly working hours in Germany. “Wouldn’t we rather let people earn more by working a little longer?” Gabriel told the “Bild am Sonntag”. “That is a question that needs to be clarified in collective bargaining, because we will not solve the problem of skilled workers with immigration alone.” Industry President Siegfried Russwurm, who advocated a 42-hour week, “rightly pointed out” , according to Gabriel, “that the reduction in working hours more than 25 years ago was justified by the rising unemployment at the time. Work for everyone by reducing working hours was the motto. Today we have the exact opposite problem: we lack people to work because the baby boomers are retiring and then the pill pops up.”

Gabriel sees Germany facing at least a decade of hard efforts: “We will not be able to avoid massive efforts in the next few years, otherwise we will leave our children nothing but a huge mountain of debt,” said the former Federal Minister of Economics. “The vast majority of people in our country are quite ready to get down to business, but they need more certainty that it’s worth it again. If we want to maintain our prosperity, at least ten years will come when it will be more strenuous than in the last few years.” In this context, Gabriel complained: “We often come to terms with the fact that we are becoming a kind of “75 percent society “ – 75 percent punctuality of the train, 75 percent vaccination rate, 75 percent working time and sometimes even only 75 percent teaching at schools. But we compete with companies that want to do 150 percent.”

At the same time, Gabriel called for relief for the working middle class instead of new social subsidies: “I fear that small-scale social programs will not offer a sustainable answer. At the end of the day, our democracies are always about whether we keep the promise that performance and effort pay off – for everyone and not just for those who are already doing well.”

It is always honorable when politicians think about how those who have little or no chance on the job market can lead a decent life, said the current chairman of the Atlantic Bridge. “The problem is that we must now do something for those who work hard in this country every day and who, with their daily performance, create the conditions for our country to remain economically successful, socially secure and ecologically committed. However, it is precisely this part of our population that usually only gets medium or often too low incomes.”