25 / 2007
Marina Lukšič-Hacin

Normative aspects and work conditions for migrants in the Federal Republic of German

In Europe, the normative regulation of migration circumstances and protection of (foreign) labour force on national and international levels is not an invention from the period after World War II or even modernity, it has been known through the entire 20th century. Already before World War II, employment abroad was regulated by bilateral agreements between states. Yugoslavia as well concluded several such agreements, among other with Germany where a large number of Slovenes worked and lived in the period between the two world wars. After World War II, the European states had to dig out from under the ruins the relations and cooperation in different fields; one of them was definitely the regulation of (migration) circumstances and protection for the workers who left for work to other countries.

The purpose of the article is to answer the questions regarding the status and protection of workers (Slovenes) that included themselves after World War II as Yugoslavs in the international labour market, more precisely of those that went to work in the Federal Republic of Germany (in continuation FRG). What were the circumstances Slovenes were entering by going for the so-called temporary work to the FRG? What were the normative conditions the FRG set for foreign workers? Were our people as Yugoslavs protected in any way whatsoever from the side of their own state? What was the relation between Yugoslavia and the FRG on inter-state, bilateral levels in regard of regulation of conditions and protection of citizens at work in the FRG? What was the position of workers abroad regarding the position workers on domestic labour market had? Have the syndicates, as organizations, of which mission was the very protection of workers’ rights, performed their work on international level as well? Were workers, coming to work in the FRG, treated as people with all dimensions of everyday life or were they reduced by the FRG migration policy to merely workers – as well on the normative level as in everyday life? How were the normative agreements carried out in practice? A review of the international conventions and inter-state agreements Yugoslavia signed, indicates that the state was intensively engaged in care for the protection if its citizens that were entering the international labour market. In the past, syndicalistic efforts and their connections on international level gave a significant contribution in this field. The FRG as well took care on normative level (bilaterally) for the rights of foreign workers employed on its grounds. Besides the state’s engagement, German syndicates, humanitarian organisations, regional or commune structures were as well involved in the protection and advocacy rights, whereat we should not forget that with the implementation of legislation into practice, significant differences occurred between individual federal provinces of the FRG. An analysis of concrete relations into which our workers were entering, indicates that their position was connected with the interstate relations. In accordance with the regulation of those was their position in the socially/culturally stratified German society. According to the perceptions Slovenes living in the FRG express, they are esteemed and do not experience discrimination. We cannot affirm the same for numerous populations of immigrants that came to the FRG from “more undesired environments”. Especially in the time of economic crises, for example in the eighties, foreign workers were subjected to heavy conditions, exploitation, insecurity, of which the work Čisto na dnu (1985) is about. The most exposed population were the (unemployed) non-qualified workers from states that did not have contracts with the FRG on protection of their workers. An analysis of circumstances in the FRG compared to the situation in other European states in which foreign workers found themselves exhibits their ambivalence. On the one hand, they had the benefit of a regulated work situation, the FRG was all along considered a state where it was from the aspect of work conditions and rights relatively well taken care of foreign workers. On the other hand, they found themselves in a space without rights, for they were treated merely as workers at temporary work abroad and as workers only. In a way, the individual was reduced from the human being to a worker who will work until the system needs him/her and after that return to where he came from. Thus, the FRG is on the other hand placed among states where little was done for the integration of the immigrants or that was even being systematically obviated. Just think of the years-lasting law on naturalisation, which the FRG changed only under “pressures” of changes in the EU policy. Similar is valid for other factors that were to establish multicultural conditions for the immigrants who are at present day set in the forefront of the EU integration policy.