Letter: World of difference in the world of work

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Sir: In his article 'Fewer holidays in the sun' (4 October), Steve Crawshaw highlights that Britain and Germany are still worlds apart when it comes to working conditions, despite the drastic cutbacks in benefits by the German government. I am in contact with British graduates in England and Germany who have recently taken up their first posts, and I can confirm there are significant differences in attitudes and approaches between British and German employers.

For instance, several graduates starting work in London have been required to work between 50 and 60 hours a week without any compensation for overtime, while the graduates in Freiburg and Heidelberg have to work only 38 to 40 hours a week. One London company even went so far as to demand a 19 1/2 -hour working day during the first week and expected the person concerned to turn up for work again within four hours, having had only three hours sleep. Furthermore, the same boss thought that he was being generous by granting a 15-working-day holiday]

These conditions are in sharp contrast to Germany. If people there occasionally have to work longer hours, they will either get time off or will receive special payments. Their employers give them 30 days holiday per year. If you compare salaries, those working in Germany are between pounds 400 and pounds 600 better off than their friends in London, not to mention all those benefits that Steve Crawshaw pointed out in his article.

If British industry can only compete with the Germans by tiring out its workers and making them work a 50- to 60-hour week, then one has to wonder about the competence of its management and inadequate training facilities.

I would not be at all surprised if one day all the best graduates packed up and left Britain for good]

Yours faithfully,




10 October