Thousands of women from Eastern Europe come to Germany to work as nurses, and are deceived by their employers. The story of the Bulgarian nurses and defend their rights.
To cook, clean the apartment, buy food, bring medical supplies, to iron linen. And to accompany to the doctor, to the store, during private visits, we spend time together in the evenings and get up at night to give medication or to pick up a duck. All this is only part of the duties 69-year-old Bulgarian nurses Dobrina D., who in 2015, came to Germany to work and had to watch 96-year-old woman. Dobrin lived with her in her apartment. Between women has developed a good relationship.
But later Dobrin went to court. She filed a lawsuit against the company, which was engaged in its employment. “The firm has deceived me, – the woman speaks. I had to work 24 hours a day. I have absolutely no free time or time for yourself.”
Under the employment agreement, which was signed with the Bulgarian firm-intermediary, Dobrin had to work only 6 hours a day. And get a 950 Euro per month. The first instance court in Berlin sided with the Bulgarian nurses and the employer now needs to pay her EUR 42,000 for the fact that she actually worked all day and were paid only a fourth part of their working time. The Bulgarian firm, in turn, appealed and now the case is considered by the court of second instance.
Many workers from Eastern Europe do not know their rights
Justin Blazevic of the Association of German trade unions (DGB) supports Dobrino in court and awaiting the verdict. It is hoped that many will follow the example of the Bulgarian nurses. For many years Polish, living in Germany, advises women from Eastern Europe who come to Germany to work as nurses. More than 300,000 elderly people use their services. Stories like the one told Dobrin, she hears every day.
“We are very pleased that finally someone decided to go to court,” says Blazevich. There are many reasons why it happened now and not before. Although such complaints come to us over the years, she says. But the main problem is that people who come to Germany to perform such work, are here only a short time, almost don’t speak German and don’t know their rights. Many fear that they will be fired. Besides widespread rumors that all disgruntled contractor allegedly contribute to the black list, which blocks access to all vacancies in Germany. “If this verdict will not change anything, I don’t know what else can affect the situation,” shrugs Justin Blazevic.
How does the scheme the recruitment of nurses
Round-the-clock nurses from Eastern Europe are very popular in Germany. In the labour market they are cheap labor. The scheme of their employment, in practice it looks so: the nurse from Poland, Bulgaria and other EU countries enters into a contract of employment with the firm-intermediary in the country. And the family in Germany is in need of a nurse, enters into a contract with the German recruiting Agency. Then those two firms conclude an agreement among themselves. The nurse pays for the services of a mediator, arrives in Germany to work for a maximum of three months and receives approximately 1300 euros per month.
Justin Blazevic believes that most this scheme is beneficial to intermediary firms: “They have virtually no risk and free in their actions. And nurses are in a very disadvantageous position.” Because in this mode they do not have boundaries between work and personal time. Many women in a conversation with DW confirmed that faced with such a problem. And when it comes to free time, then immediately followed by threats of dismissal and there is a risk of losing their job.
Round-the-clock work, contrary to employment law
Many German HR Agency to have their name advertised the option of round the clock care, thus reinforcing expectations that nurses need to do their job 24 hours a day. Seeba Frederick (Frederick Seebohm) from the Association for care of the elderly said that this is facilitated by the desires of the customers and high competition in the labour market. Agree with him and Justin Blazevic.
An acute shortage of caregivers for the elderly and sick people in Germany makes it impossible for an adequate alternative to 24-hour working day nurses. “The Germans are dependent on staff from Eastern Europe, but differently, unfortunately, does not work,” says Frederick Seebohm. He indicates that many of those who came from Eastern Europe to work in this field, do not have any contract and their rights are not protected.
Dobrina D. optimistic and awaiting the verdict at home in Bulgaria, in a small town by the sea: “I want to show my colleagues that in addition to the responsibilities we have rights that we must defend”. If the court decides in her favor, she intends to spend the money on the education of their grandchildren, which in any case should not become a cheap labor force on the European labour market.