Leipzig (D) * 2006 * Shrinking Cities, Galerie für zeitgenössische Kunst * 6 weeks
Within the framework of the exhibition Shrinking Cities – Interventions, WochenKlausur developed a model under which long-term unemployed people can design their own “one-euro jobs”.
Against the vehement protest of the trade unions, a law was passed in Germany to reduce unemployment by reforming labor-market policy. Under the new law, associations, public institutions and private enterprises can requisition long-term unemployed people to do work that serves the public good. Unemployed people are assigned to these so-called “one-euro jobs” for six months, even if they have no training or skills related to the task at hand. Refusal can lead to a cancellation of unemployment benefits. Frequently these “publicly paid work opportunities” are perceived as coercion.
This is where WochenKlausur began its work. If people are to be assigned jobs to avoid losing their unemployment benefits, then they should at least be able to choose a suitable activity. They should create and define their own “one-euro jobs”.
Long-term unemployed people were invited to a number of meetings through newspaper articles, flyers and the cooperative efforts of unemployment organizations, the neighborhood initiative Kleinzschocher and the alumni associations of the University of Leipzig. These meetings gave them an opportunity to develop ideas for one-euro jobs. Eventually, twelve people assembled into four groups and developed the following projects:
• Technical Assistance for Seniors: Three unemployed people formed a pool to help older people in everyday interaction with new technologies (mobile phones, computers, users manuals etc.)
• Literature Outpost: Three literature enthusiasts selected translations of foreign literature on a special theme and organized readings in neighborhoods with a meager offering of cultural events
• Neighborhood Gallery: A group of three jobless artists conducted art workshops in the Leipzig districts Volkmarsdorf and Reudnitz and organized exhibitions of local artists
• Reading Cafe: three unemployed people founded the event platform Reading Cafe to organize small, noncommercial events
Following several rounds of negotiations with WochenKlausur, the Leipzig Employment Agency agreed to the execution of the first four pilot projects and guaranteed that follow-up projects could be organized. Thus it was possible, within the relatively inflexible new employment law, to make more options available to people categorized as long-term unemployed. Their qualifications and their personal and professional developmental interests will be taken into account in bringing them together with their new “employers”, i.e. the nonprofit organizations that have committed themselves to cooperate in the effort.
Finally, WochenKlausur succeeded in making arrangements for the Leipzig Unemployed Persons’ Association to continue supporting unemployed people in avoiding arbitrary assignment to one-euro jobs by making their own suggestions for purposeful employment.
Norbert Bacher, Claudia Eipeldauer, Bertram Haude, Hans-Christian Lotz, Martina Reuter, Barbara Seifert, Karl Seiringer, Wolfgang Zinggl