Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Fare’s unfair for the blokes of Berlin


A SCHWARZFAHRER – literal translation: black driver or rider – is a German fare dodger. This Teutonic term also applies to any male Berliner who, when using public transport on Monday of this week, attempted to pay the same fare as a woman.

In Germany, March 18 was Equal Pay Day. Yes, as in Britain there is a designated date on which Germans commemorate gerrymandered – or in this case, jerrymandered – pay statistics. The results are broadly similar to the UK: by lumping together all types of employment and ignoring differences in working hours and responsibilities, the crude conclusion is that German women earn 21 per cent less than their male compatriots. 

Adjusted for qualifications and experience, even the slanted statistics show a much smaller pay gap of 6 per cent. Nonetheless, campaigners use the fiddled figure of a 21 per cent differential to extrapolate that Deutsche dames work unpaid for the first 77 days of the year. To celebrate the end of their penury for 2019, on March 18 the transport authority in Berlin offered Frauentickets at a discount of 21 per cent, the day fare for women reduced from €7.00 to €5.50.

Furthermore, on Equal Pay Day women in the city-state were offered the same percentage saving on an annual travel ticket. Handsomely paid female lawyers, doctors and senior civil servants in the seat of federal government therefore had the opportunity to buy a year of public transport for €160 less than the cost to a man who sweeps their streets.

Incidentally, this year Berlin reinstated International Women’s Day, which fell on Friday, March 8, as a public holiday – just as Frauentag had been commemorated before German reunification, when the city’s East sector was part of the GDR under the Soviet jackboot and Women’s Day was forcibly celebrated behind the Wall.

By reviving this observance from its oppressed past, Berlin takes my breath away. Mind you, for next year’s Frauentag the city’s female workers might benefit from having time off before International Women’s Day . . .

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Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver is an accountant who lives in East Lothian.

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