Day laborer

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Former day laborer's house in Weidenstetten , Alb-Donau district , from the 18th century. Today in the Beuren open-air museum
With these tool bags on the side of the road, a bricklayer and a plumber in Dakhla (Western Sahara) draw attention to themselves. They hope to be picked up for work on a construction site during the day.

A day laborer , and day laborers , formerly Tagner , is someone who is no fixed employment contract has but his labor constantly for new employers offer short term. The name comes from the fact that the day laborers are only employed on a daily basis. Over the centuries, day labor has also been linked to an employment relationship that only enables a life “from hand to mouth”.

There are specialized employment agencies that refer jobseekers who come to their offices to employers for one or more days. In addition, there is an informal labor market in many countries around the world. Day laborers, often craftsmen and construction workers, gather at certain sections of the road or in public places where they are picked up by employers' agents. Day laborers on the informal labor market mostly do underpaid, mostly unskilled manual jobs and come from lower social classes.

Day laborers in Germany

Historical situation

Passing on day labor to the next generation: a day laborer woman announces the birth of her grandson. His mother is also the wife of a day laborer. (Registry office birth certificate from 1880)

Day laborers generally belonged to the landless population and thus came from poor backgrounds. In addition, as a rule, they did not pursue a specific occupation or were no longer able to pursue a profession. Therefore, they were forced to all sorts of physical auxiliary, casual and seasonal jobs to accept, especially work that below the level of the guild even lay craft. These included showmen , transport drivers and road workers. In addition, semi-skilled workers who had no actual professional training hired themselves as day laborers. Among the day laborers there were also skilled craftsmen who, for various reasons, could not or no longer assert themselves in their profession.

One could live rather poorly than right on the merits. Day laborers were thus far down in the social stratification . In many cases, the wives also had to earn additional income as day laborers or working from home . Until the introduction of compulsory schooling , this also applied to the children of day labor families. In many cases, the work demands on the parents were so high and the earnings so low that there was no other solution to this problem. Thus, the participation of the children in class also fluctuated depending on the work that their parents had to do. But even before the introduction of compulsory schooling, local schools were only partially attended by the children of day laborers. In particular , the parents were often unable to pay additional expenses for school fees or books. Local authorities were able to force children of poor parents to attend school, but the costs then had to be paid by the officials, which they shied away from. In many cases, the authorities left it up to the teacher to report the charges. The necessity of having to help parents with their work, but at the same time not receiving regular schooling, meant that day laborers' children later had few opportunities to advance in society and to have a secure living. Many could neither read nor write properly before the introduction of compulsory schooling. In some areas of Germany where agriculture did not offer enough work or where inheritance conditions meant that there were a large number of people without real estate , the male population also often worked at home. This typically included weaving . The Weber are still the most common manifestation of pauperism .

Contractually bound day laborers north of the Elbe were mainly referred to as Insten, Inst people, Katen people, service or contract gardeners . The Insten had emerged from the landless peasant relationships and were now farm laborers. This situation arose with the peasant liberation completed around 1850 . In this function they covered the need for a good in field workers. Thus, the Inste still had mostly at his own expense, one or two Hofgänger or flock workers make. The landowner did not care whether these workers were, for example, the children of Insten or were recruited from abroad. The daily wage earner thus assumed the dual role of employee and employer . In 1872 it was said that Insten had a poor, but secure income.

At the World Exhibition in London in 1851 , new "farm tools" appeared, including the steam threshing machines that have since found their way into Germany. As a result, the grain threshing could be done in a few weeks. Previously, the grain harvest had been threshed with the flail, which took about 30 weeks from late September to early May. The farm day laborers received part of the threshed grain from the threshing and had a permanent job through the winter. With the threshing machine, they became unemployed or underemployed in winter and had to accept lower cash wages for other jobs.

The day laborers were only offered opportunities for advancement in society after the state had founded the German Empire in 1871. Many civil servant positions were newly created and military service also offered various options.

Todays situation

In the narrower sense, it is mostly used today to describe unemployed people who are looking for work with an identity card in job exchanges for immediate placement in the sense of additional income for one or a few days. The worker-friendly social status quo that has been achieved since the middle of the 20th century has been more and more undermined since the end of the millennium . The reasons for this are diverse and often controversial. According to the Federal Statistical Office, there are around 62 million people between the ages of 18 and 64 in Germany, around 65 percent of whom earn their living mainly from gainful employment. According to the Nuremberg Labor Research Institute, around one million people work as day laborers. They are also referred to as short-term employees .

Temporary jobs

The massive expansion of temporary jobs and the associated insecurities for employees are a step backwards from the conditions of the 19th century and were part of the overall picture of day labor at that time.

Digital day laborers

Due to the rapid development of the Internet, new forms of day labor developed in the early 21st century. In particular, digital day labor, in which occasional jobs are sometimes advertised worldwide, not only leads to new dependencies and wages below the general standard of living, but also to the massive reduction in permanent and solidly paid jobs. In addition, companies that offer digital jobs in this sense save themselves social security contributions and undermine minimum wages.

Gig economy

Gig Economy (from English : gig for appearance) describes a part of the job market in which small jobs are given to independent freelancers or marginally employed people at short notice. An online platform often serves as an intermediary between customer and contractor, setting framework conditions and whose operatorwithholdsa commission . Well-known examples of the gig economy are platforms such as Uber (drivers for passenger transport), Deliveroo and Foodora (bicycle rivals for food delivery) or MyHammer (craftsman services). There are also platforms in the gig economy for cleaning staff, as well as for designers , translators and copywriters.

Seasonal workers

Seasonal workers are also in a form of day labor. Since the fall of the Wall in 1990, such workers have been recruited particularly often in Eastern Europe and mostly carry out harvesting work (strawberries, asparagus, vegetables, wine, apples and berries). Even after the middle of the 20th century, the status of seasonal workers remained largely unaffected by the progressive improvements in working life. New after the turn of the millennium are the conditions that have fallen behind the levels of the 20th century, under which seasonal workers sometimes have to live during their employment in Germany.

Bogus self-employed and illegally employed

The media report on numerous people from Eastern Europe - Romanians and Bulgarians, for example - who work as day laborers in Germany, risk exploitation and, in some cases, receive far less wages than is usual in Germany. Some work in bogus self-employment or in illegal employment ; some are encouraged to sign an overpriced rental agreement. According to the media, some are given multiple employment contracts in parallel, including one for a service company registered in the European Union that combine low pay with high expectations of their availability and flexibility in terms of time. The media speak of the "work line" and of " wage slavery ". You can rarely afford a lawyer to fight fraud. The day laborers on the “work line” offer each other support and protection, and inform each other about employers who cheat.

International situation

In the United States , according to a 2006 estimate, around 75 percent of day laborers ( jornaleros ) are illegal immigrants , another 18 percent are legally resident immigrants, and only the remaining 7 percent are Native Americans. Day laborers are a noticeable economic factor in the United States, and they make up the majority of the informal workforce. In Japan there are simple residential areas for artisan workers in the big cities called yoseba . The name means "meeting place" and refers to the public employment agency for day laborers, which is located in each neighborhood.

See also


  • Jens Flemming : Authoritative state, right of association and agricultural workers. On the development of rural labor law in Prussia between Vormärz and the founding of the Reich . In: History and Society. Special issue, Volume 6, Prussia in retrospect . 1980, pp. 247-272

Web links

Wiktionary: day laborer  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Gerhard Schildt : The workers in the 19th and 20th centuries . Oldenbourg, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-486-55010-1 , p. 3.
  2. Alwin Hanschmidt , Hans-Ulrich Musolff: Introduction . In: Alwin Hanschmidt, Hans-Ulrich Musolff (ed.): Elementary education and professional training 1450–1750 . Böhlau, Cologne 2005, ISBN 3-412-22605-X , p. 6.
  3. Theo Meyer: From fishermen, horrors of war and day laborers: History from East Frisia . Sutton, Erfurt 2008, ISBN 978-3-86680-324-4 , p. 99.
  4. Georg Stöcker: Agrarian ideology and social reform in the German Empire. Heinrich Sohnrey and the German Association for Rural Welfare and Homeland Care 1896–1914 . V&R unipress, Göttingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-89971-673-3 , pp. 33-35.
  5. ZDF - 37 degrees: a new job every day? - Day laborers struggle to survive. dated February 24, 2009
  6. Ulrich Horstmann: Back to the social market economy! Why Ludwig Erhard would turn around in his grave . FinanzBook-Verlag, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-89879-779-5 , p. 107.
  7. Maria Baalmann: between closeness and distance. Work and life of south Lower Saxony farm workers in the 19th century . Schmerse, Göttingen 2006, ISBN 3-926920-40-8 , p. 218.
  8. Caspar Dohmen: Digital day laborers: Nobody can live on it. LMU Munich: future of work. More digital day laborers, fewer permanent employees.
  9. Jasmin Schreyer, Jan-Felix Schrape : Algorithmic work coordination in the platform-based gig economy . In: Work and Industrial Sociological Studies 11 (2) . ( [PDF; accessed on October 8, 2018]).
  10. ^ Matthias Bartsch, Manfred Fischer, Michael Fröhlingsdorf, Özlem Gezer, Gunther Latsch, Maximilian Popp: Exploitation is everyday life. In: Spiegel online. November 24, 2014, accessed May 19, 2018 .
  11. Manfred Götzke: Exploitation: Illegal contracts as a mass phenomenon. In: Deutschlandfunk Kultur. January 13, 2014, accessed May 19, 2018 .
  12. Low-threshold: Munich opens a consultation café for illegal day laborers. In: Migazin. January 7, 2016, accessed May 19, 2018 .
  13. ^ Justin McDevitt: Compromise Is Complicity: Why There Is No Middle Road in the Struggle to Protect Day Laborers in the United States. In: ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law , Vol. 26, No. 1, autumn 2010, pp. 101–121, here p. 103
  14. Carol Cleaveland, Laura Kelly: Shared Social Space and Strategies To Find Work: An Exploratory Study of Mexican Day Laborers in Freehold, NJ In: Social Justice , Vol. 35, No. 4, 114 (Migrant Labor and Contested Public Space) 2008–09, pp. 51–65, here p. 51
  15. Carolyn Stevens: Day Laborers, Volunteers And Welfare In Contemporary Japan . In: Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development , Vol. 24, No. 3/4, Herbst-Winter 1995, pp. 229-253, here p. 230