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Last Updated: Friday, 27 May, 2005, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
German job auction site prospers
Fabian Loew
Mr Loew believes Germany's high wages are hindering the economy
A young entrepreneur is enjoying success in Germany after developing a website that allows people to bid for work by undercutting others.

He is now in talks to set up so-called "job-dumping" sites in other countries.

Jobdumping.de, set up by student Fabian Loew, has been flourishing in a country where five million - nearly one in eight workers - are unemployed.

The site works much like a traditional online auction site, except in reverse - jobs are advertised, and then the lowest bidder - ie the person willing to do the job for the least amount of money - wins.

"For example, if your washing machine is out of order and you have only 80 euros (54) left to repair it, you put this job into our job-dumping system - and the question is then who would like to do this job for the least amount of money," Mr Loew explained to BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

'Slave labour'

The job-dumping site lists 8,000 professions, in 1,200 categories. The jobs offered range from babysitting to IT administration.

German trade union rally
German trade unions are opposed to Mr Loew's site
Mr Loew said that the site regulated itself by having minimum and maximum wages integrated by the initiators of the auctions, in a similar way to the "minimum bid" on online auction sites.

These are usually slightly higher than the average minimum wage in Europe, he added, saying that the site avoids exploitation because people will only bid up to the point they can accept.

"We have never had jobs bid down so much that it has not been an agreeable level," he said.

However, Germany's trade unions have criticised Mr Loew's site for exploiting people.

One has accused it of being a form of "slave labour."

Mr Loew refuted this description, and said that his site was helping the unemployed - something he felt trade unions failed to do.

"There are only trade unions for people integrated in society by work," he added.

"What about one of the greatest minorities - the unemployed? No one cares about them - but we try to. That needs a trade union as well."

Economic beliefs

The job-dumping site also has a category where workers can simply offer their services, rather than bidding for a specific job.

German unemployment exchange
Unemployment in Germany is now around 12% - a post-war high
The idea is that an employer may find them and offer more money than they are currently getting.

Mr Loew explained that he had the idea for the site because of his feelings on the German labour market.

He believes that those who are in work should reappraise their country's relatively short working hours and relatively high wages, and argues they are damaging the country.

"We have known since the 1960s that we are running out of productivity," he added.

"If the wages go down a little bit - that means, in our system, by 10-15% - it will make it possible that goods and services will be offered cheaper on the market, and so people may buy more, and the economy will increase again."


SEE ALSO:
German jobless rate in shock dip
28 Apr 05 |  Business
German unemployment keeps rising
31 Mar 05 |  Business
German jobless rate at new record
01 Mar 05 |  Business


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