The 41-hour week applies to Bundeswehr soldiers: This limitation of working hours has been in force since the beginning of 2016 as a result of the implementation of the so-called European Working Time Directive. Since then, soldiers who accumulate overtime have been compensated with free time instead of money.
Now a response from the federal government to a written question by the AfD parliamentary group in the Bundestag suggests that soldiers are increasingly pursuing part-time jobs as a result of this regulation. The letter available to WELT from Boris Pistorius' (SPD) Ministry of Defense shows: The number of soldiers who were in active service as of December 31 of the year under review and had one or more sideline jobs has risen continuously since the end of 2015. At that time there were 11,086 soldiers with part-time jobs, by the end of 2019 the number was already 13,171. As of December 31, 2022, there were 14,434 soldiers. That's about 3,500 more than ten years ago.
The AfD member of the Bundestag Jan Nolte, himself a temporary soldier with the rank of first boatswain, considers this development to be worrying: "While the Bundeswehr is suffering from a shortage of personnel, more and more of its active soldiers have been working for other employers since the implementation of the European Working Time Directive," said Nolte WELT. "The Federal Ministry of Defense does not seem to be making optimal use of the potential of its own soldiers."
At the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the Union faction called for the working time directive to be suspended during the war. The CDU member of the Bundestag and Colonel a. At the time, D. Roderich Kiesewetter advocated paying overtime for the armed forces. "That would free up a lot of energy," said the former head of the reservists' association.
The defense policy spokesman for the opposition Union in the Bundestag, Florian Hahn (CSU), sees no need for action today with regard to part-time jobs for soldiers. “The top priority is smooth service operations, including the operational readiness of the armed forces. In the Bundeswehr, there are therefore strict requirements regarding compliance, type and scope for the approval of secondary activities," says Hahn WELT.
The military superiors evaluated and approved every application for secondary employment “mirrored against their own orders. We can and should trust the ability of the responsible disciplinary superiors to judge and evaluate based on the existing guidelines.”
Defense experts from the traffic light factions also point to close scrutiny of sideline activities within the military. Wolfgang Hellmich from the SPD therefore finds the data to be "bare numbers that say nothing". If the service in the armed forces is not affected by such jobs, he sees no problem: "Why shouldn't soldiers on basic service be able to work as trainers or referees at the weekend if they want to?"
Hellmich's FDP colleague Alexander Müller criticizes that "the scope of the sideline activities is not mentioned here, neither in terms of the time required nor in terms of income". Müller points out, for example, that the Bundeswehr currently has around 10,000 volunteers doing military service, "everyone of whom will certainly immediately admit that it is completely legitimate to earn something to make a living in addition to this voluntary service". He also sees the "control of the employer" as given: "If soldiers would only perform their job to a limited extent, the supervisor can prevent this at any time." WELT did not receive an answer to a request from the Greens parliamentary group.
The left-wing faction's defense policy spokesman, Ali Al-Dailami, also emphasized that without further breakdown by type or duration of the sideline activities, only a few conclusions could be drawn from the figures. At the same time, however, he emphasizes: “One thing is clear: every full-time job must be remunerated in such a way that you can make a good living from it and are not dependent on secondary jobs. If the trend towards second jobs also continues among soldiers, this hardly fits in with Defense Minister Pistorius’ grandiose announcement that he would make the Bundeswehr more attractive.”
Rising living costs, especially in the areas of housing, energy and food, affect all professional groups - "salaries must rise accordingly".
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