Are The Easy Times Gone For Good?

Germany has a giant jobs crisis that threatens its labor peace

On a foggy morning in January, five employees taking a coffee break at a railcar factory in Siegen, Germany, talk gloomily about work. For the past three years, they've watched hundreds of colleagues collect their last paychecks as their employer, ABB Henschel, started making railcars at low-cost sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. They know something is wrong with a Germany that now exports its jobs instead of creating more at home. "The whole system has to be fixed for our children and grandchildren," laments Werner Schulz, 54, an accountant. Agrees Ulrich Kromback, a 45-year-old welder in blue coveralls: "It's more urgent than ever."

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