The world into which Rainer Dulger steps is bright and bathed in rosé light. The Employers' President is framed by screens and glowing pillars that change from soft pink tones to pale purple. His BDA association set up a backdrop for the German Employers' Day in the former Berlin-Tempelhof Airport that is as cozy as a yoga studio. And that's what the employer president sounds like at the start.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in the front row he showered with gratitude for the "close cooperation in the last few months", for "many correct measures", for having come at all. When Dulger ends his speech with a quote from Willy Brandt, the tension increases as to whether the two will hug when they change on stage. Of course it doesn't happen. Dulger brings up a few points of contention between the acknowledgments and the Brandt quote, but more on that later.
In the past few days, they have made it clear in statements and interviews what is on the minds of Germany's entrepreneurs. The sharply increased energy prices endanger many companies, other raw materials are also scarce, sometimes not available at all. Added to this are high inflation and ambitious wage demands from trade unions such as IG Metall.
"We also need this turning point in social policy," says Dulger
The Employers' Day is traditionally the place where business representatives meet the top staff of the federal government publicly confront their demands. Sometimes with more aggressiveness, sometimes with less. Employer President Dulger says: "Dear Chancellor, allow me to express one wish today." It seems to be paying off that Olaf Scholz involves employers and trade unions in his crisis policy. People talk regularly, this Thursday again at the Concerted Action in the Chancellery.
Nevertheless, there is some plain text: Switching off nuclear power plants now is like being on the titanic Throw lifeboats overboard, says Dulger. Employers supported the sanctions against Russia and the turning point in security policy announced by Scholz. But: “We also need this turning point in the social policy", says Dulger. Specifically, he dislikes the planned citizens' allowance ("Bridge to the social system"), the midi jobs that burden companies with more social contributions, and the high social costs in general.
The employers invited the responsible Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD), but he did not come. It's a shame, says Dulger, that he "didn't find the time to talk to business." scene applause. Hail to the bad boy here today.
When Habeck speaks, the backdrop plays in dark purple
When Olaf Scholz enters the stage, it continues to glow bravely in pink tones. And you experience a different Olaf Scholz here than three years ago. At that time, Scholz was still Minister of Finance and was applying for the SPD presidency. At that time, he made the announcement to the employers at their meeting that, contrary to what they had hoped, there would be no major tax cuts for companies. On Tuesday, on the other hand, business representatives will experience a chancellor who is looking to close ranks.
Employers' support for Russia sanctions? A triple thank you. The lack of gas that endangers the existence of companies? In January, the first terminals for liquefied gas will go into operation on the north German coast. And additional help for companies that can't do it all on their own? "We are working flat out on it," says Scholz, adding that the funding options will be expanded so that "bakeries can survive this time, too." "We will now enforce the electricity price brake at high speed". Like a manager, Olaf Scholz acts as a doer in front of employers. On the demands for less welfare state and less regulation: not a word. Scholz excludes the conflict.
Robert Habeck (Greens) will not get away that easily a little later. The employers have organized an experienced journalist to question the Federal Minister of Economics in detail about the nuclear power plants that are to remain on standby. The backdrop is already dark purple, the silence is icy at first. The contribution of the nuclear power plants is in the per thousand range, says Habeck - and tries to quickly get the curve to additional money for energy price-plagued medium-sized companies, which Habeck wants to set as a message this Tuesday. But the help remains so vague that even employer representatives are more concerned about nuclear power, above all because of Habeck's refusal to see the solution in longer terms. "I will continue on this course," says Habeck almost defiantly. And for that, of all things, he gets spontaneous applause.