Location Germany Germany

Germany tries to lure foreign workers

Worker-starved Germany plans to ease immigration rules to attract foreign jobseekers and replenish its fast aging workforce, despite mounting public resistance against new arrivals.

Germany’s first immigration law, expected to be agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday, is eagerly anticipated by industries.

But the law, which will have to be put to parliament, risks opening new fault lines in a country already deeply split over a record influx of more than a million mostly Muslim refugees and migrants since 2015.

The German Trade Union Confederation has also warned that the eased access could lead to salary dumping and exploitation of foreign workers.

Under the planned relaxed rules, jobseekers from outside the European Union-including, for example, cooks, metallurgy workers or IT technicians-would be allowed to come to Germany for six months to try and find employment, provided they speak German and can financially support themselves.

More controversial has been a plan to allow migrants already in Germany who are awaiting decisions on their asylum applications to stay if they are gainfully employed and can show they have joined the fabric of German society.

Following an outcry from the more conservative wing of Merkel’s CDU party, it was unclear whether ministers would water down elements of the draft proposal, especially on the issue of employment for rejected asylum-seekers.

Julia Kloeckner, a heavyweight in the CDU party, has warned amid a heated debate that this part of the package could create “a wrong incentive” for more people to try to get to Germany.

About 60 percent of companies see a worker shortage as a risk to the development of their businesses, according to a letter by German industry and employment leaders to Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

Immigration has become a hot potato in recent years due to the record influx of migrants.

Railing against the newcomers, the far-right AfD has become Germany’s biggest opposition party.

But Germany is also anxious to not leave thousands of migrants-who may spend years waiting on a final decision on their asylum claims or deportation-idle and susceptible to taking on jobs in the black market.

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