Unemployed Could Be Offered Brothel Work

Article excerpt

Byline: David Crossland, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

BERLIN - Germany's trade union federation has warned that unemployed people can legally be asked to seek work in brothels under new welfare reforms introduced on Jan. 1 aimed at cutting mass joblessness.

The reforms, the toughest package of cuts introduced by any German government since World War II, state that people out of work for more than 12 months must take on any type of work or face cuts in their benefits.

Prostitution is legal in Germany, and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's center-left government gave prostitutes employment protection rights in 2002. Prostitutes are now eligible for social welfare benefits.

"At present, no one is being asked to work as a prostitute against their will, and such a situation will probably never arise. But the government has neglected to clarify what type of work should be judged unacceptable, and that's what we're criticizing," said Claudia Falk, spokeswoman for the DGB trade union federation in the northern port of Hamburg.

"We need to get legal definitions of what constitutes unacceptable work," Ms. Falk said. "Theoretically, there could be misunderstandings. You could get cleverly worded advertisements for jobs as 'young waitresses' that have little to do with serving tables."

The government conceded that unemployment was likely to top 5 million for January, the highest level since the war. Faced with important regional elections this year and a general election in 2006, the government has put intense pressure on job centers to place the long-term unemployed in any kind of work. …