In Brief: Merkel’s governing coalition diverges on how many refugees from destroyed Greek camp to bring to Germany

The Social Democratic Party is ramping up pressure on its conservative partners in the country's governing coalition to take in more refugees from Greece in the wake of a fire that destroyed the overcrowded Moria camp.

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

 

 

By Sylvia Cunningham and Don Clyde

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet plans to decide by Wednesday how to help refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, where a fire last week destroyed the camp of nearly 13,000 people.

The Social Democrats are ramping up the pressure on their coalition partner to do more, saying the clock is ticking to find a solution.

Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters on Monday that the move to take in up to 150 unaccompanied children is just the first step. He said the government needs to come together to make a second and more substantial contribution.

SPD co-chair Saskia Esken told public broadcaster ZDF that Germany should be looking to take in a “high four digit” number of refugees, though she didn’t name a specific amount.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and his CDU colleagues said they want to see a European-wide solution, rather than have Germany shoulder the aid effort.

Berlin Interior Senator Andreas Geisel, who criticized Seehofer’s plan to take in up to 150 refugees as a “shamefully low” number will meet Tuesday with Greek authorities to see what kind of aid the state of Berlin can offer.

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German Labor Minister Hubertus Heil still intends to introduce a law this fall that will expand people’s right to work from home.

Not much is known about the plan, but Heil recently told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland newspaper group the rules will better protect employees who are working in home office.

Heil said if companies want their employees to be flexible, companies have to be flexible in return. He added that working from home should not mean that employees are available to their employers around the clock.

He first floated the idea to enshrine the right to home office in German law in April. A study from the German Institute for Economic Research this spring found about 35% of employees worked at least part-time from home that month.

But critics of the proposed law say new regulations are unnecessary, will lead to more bureaucracy and could lead to job outsourcing.

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The workload for Berlin’s firefighters increased last year by 3%, according to an annual report that was presented Monday in the city’s House of Representatives.

Last year, the fire department deployed about every 66 seconds for a total of nearly 480,000 rescue and firefighting missions.

But the report also underscored that the brigade is understaffed and is hitting its target response times in less than 60% of operations.

This news is brought to you in cooperation with Berliner Rundfunk.

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