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Double standards in the care sector: systemically relevant but exploited

The Federal Labor Court has finally decided: the minimum wage should also apply to nurses from abroad with immediate effect. Dobrina D.'s long struggle against exploitative conditions in her workplace now set a milestone for the rights of migrant people in the care sector. For several months, Dobrina D. looked after a senior citizen in need of care 24 hours a day, around the clock. She was only paid for 30 hours a week - a clear exploitation. We ask ourselves: How can this (still) be?

The decision of the Federal Labor Court finally makes years of injustice visible 

We are pleasantly surprised by the decision of the Federal Labor Court of June 24.06.2021th, XNUMX: care workers from abroad are finally entitled to their well-deserved and long overdue right to the minimum wage! This decision sets a precedent for many caregivers and the public. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of nursing staff from abroad are active in Germany - and so far have not received a fair wage for their indispensable work under precarious working conditions.

Care chains and the gender migration pay gap support the German care system

In this power imbalance, migrant women are clearly on the losing side. Global care chains and the so-called gender migration pay gap have long supported the increasingly weaker care sector in Germany. The privatizations in the health system and the lack of government support for families who look after their relatives also contributed to a growing dumping wage market for caregivers from abroad. The majority of them are women who are brought to Germany from their home country with false promises. In expectation of fair pay, these women leave their own families in their home country to look after others in Germany. These care chains in turn create social gaps in the families of the carers. The nursing staff in Germany often experience sexist and racist violence and are highly dependent on their employers. The women concerned therefore often do not fight back for fear of losing their work and residence permits.

Othering increases the wage gap in the care sector

Although this system-relevant work is socially highly relevant even in times of the corona pandemic, there is still no recognition through equal pay for all employees. As part of our event on the topic Migration and Gender Pay Gap In May 2021, the scientist Eva Palenga-Möllenbeck described the unequal treatment of workers in the care sector with reference to the so-called othering process. One group, as in the case of Dobrina D. as a Bulgarian migrant, is assigned a “differentness” and thus a lower status due to their gender and origin. This explains why there is a wage gap between women of origin German and non-German women within the care sector. For years, DaMigra has been pointing out this gender migration pay gap and the existing entanglements of sexist and racist discrimination in various alliances, unfortunately often in vain.

"The fight for equal rights and access to the labor market for groups that have been discriminated against multiple times, such as migrant or refugee women, is not about special rights, but rather about obtaining freedom for all," said Dr. Delal Atmaca, Managing Director of DaMigra.

Certainly today there is a reason to be happy about the success of Dobrina D. before the labor court. At the same time we ask ourselves: Where were all the intersectional women's associations and political actors when Dobrina D. fought for her rights? We therefore continue to appeal to civil society and the German government: These injustices concern us all, we must not leave any woman alone in her fight against sexism and racism on the job market and elsewhere!

DaMigra eV represents the interests of women migrant organizations and their concerns and advocates equal opportunities, equal participation and the equality of women with a history of migration and refugee experience in Germany. DaMigra follows the approach of anti-racist feminism.




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