Yasmin Fahimi, State Secretary at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs

Speaks on Social Injustice, Social Policies, as well as the Transatlantic Relationship.

Am Rande Ihrer Gespräche mit US-Regierungsvertretern sprach Staatssekretärin Yasmin Fahimi (BMAS) mit uns über Ungleichheit, Sozialpolitik und die transatlantischen Beziehungen.

During her visit to Washington, Yasmin Fahimi, State Secretary at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, spoke with FES about Social Injustice, Social Policies, as well as the Transatlantic Relationship.


The Video is in German. Here are her Remarks in English:

1. Where do you see the political dangers of growing inequality? 
When talking about inequality, we are also talking about the social relationships in our society. And with a growing inequality it also tears up the different groups in our country, who get the impression that the promise of a social market economy isn´t kept anymore. This promise is based on the premise, that everyone has the chance of social advancement and that the only factor here should be his or her performance and willingness to achieve their goals. An important aspect of this is social infrastructure which we have to provide, but we also need a culture of giving the right to have opportunities independent from where you are from. This is a big topic and a reason why we have to fight against inequality in our country. Because we want a socially and peaceful society in the future but as we can see, inequality, especially economic inequality, can lead to damage. We estimate based on our own data that last year 2% of our BIP was lost, because our inequality was simply too high and we couldn't´t properly address our internal market. Therefore we have economic, as well as social, reasons to find political solutions for inequality.


2. How should or can social policies react to these issues?
We will of course have to make sure that there is more distribution in our country. We especially need more equal opportunities, that means we have to ensure that there is the proper infrastructure for everybody so we can keep this central promise of a social market economy. That entails good training and education from daycare to university, which is why we want to make education free of charge. This also means that we still rely on stable social security systems. In this regard we have to stabilize our pension system, but we also have to renew our unemployment insurance. A key aspect here is to find tailor-made solutions, so we do not simply want to put more money into these systems, but making sure to find the right solutions for the future. For the unemployment insurance that would mean to establish a legal claim of getting further training or in the pension system to look after those who have suffered under the unstable labor market over the past 25 years and therefore don´t have an uninterrupted working history. That is why our challenge will be to reform the social systems in a way that the right groups will be addressed with the proper help. Besides that we will also have to talk about wealth when 10% of our society control 50% of our overall wealth and that 2/3 of them haven´t earned that through their own performance, but through inheritance. This clearly points to one of the lost promises we will have to get back to: The need to reform the distribution of wealth in our country.


3. What do you expect from the new U.S. Secretary of Labor and where do you see opportunities for transatlantic cooperation?
In a world where we have more and more intensive exchange internationally and in which we have an international division of labor and we are witnessing a digital change we will have to ask the question: How can we secure good and safe jobs everywhere? That is why every form of exchange has to be linked to questions regarding rights for workers. We also want to help the producing countries that are still far behind our western industrial standards in many regards, for example in terms of occupational and health occupational safety. That is also why we put a lot of effort into the development of sustainable supply chains. We hope to see the U.S. Labor Administration engage in future G20-processes, with our presidency this year, and stand for these fair and sustainable supply chains and that there are better agreements between countries over more general working rights and more opportunities for women in the labor market.

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