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Dead-end Jobs:
Precarious Work in Central and Eastern Europe – and Germany

Discourse | In English

With Dragana Bubulj (Project „Fair Mobility“ of the German Trade Union Confederation, Stuttgart), Jost Maurin (taz, Berlin), Valer Simion Cosma (Zalău Museum of Art and History, Zalău)
Moderation: Gabriele Freitag (German Association for East European Studies, Berlin)

Input: Gianina Cărbunariu (Teatrul Tineretului, Piatra Neamț)

They work in slaughterhouses and industrial laundries, on construction sites, in waste sorting plants, and on assembly lines. Unregulated working hours, night shifts, wages that barely cover the daily essentials, work that is dangerous and hazardous to their health: this is everyday life for hundreds of thousands of people in Eastern Europe—but also for seasonal workers in Germany.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, precarious working conditions in Germany have become more visible. Due to a lack of protective measures in the workplace and cramped conditions in collective accommodation and residential containers, many workers from Eastern Europe have become infected with the virus. The pandemic has acted like a magnifying glass, exposing these injustices. What living conditions in their countries of origin lead people to accept such working conditions? How does this system work under German labor law? Who profits from it? And can the current spotlight on the situation be used to sustainably improve working conditions for seasonal workers in Germany?

A cooperation between the German Association for East European Studies and the Volksbühne Berlin

The event will be streamed live here and the Facebook pages of DGO and Volksbühne. If you would like to join the discussion with your questions via the Zoom Chat, just log in with this link.


Dragana Bubulj has worked as an advisor for the Fair Mobility project since 2017 and mainly offers assistance to people from the post-Yugoslavian states. In addition to speaking Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian, Ms. Bubulj is also able to give advice in German and English. She is a trained pedagogue and works as an assistant lecturer at the Ludwigsburg University of Education, where she is also completing her PhD.

Valer Simion Cosma holds a doctorate degree in history. He is a scientific researcher at the Zalău Museum of Art and History and a post-doctoral researcher at Faculty of Theatre and Television of Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj. Together with Cornel Ban and Daniela Gabor he is the co-author of the recent study The Human Cost of Fresh: East European Workers and the European Food Supply Chain, for which he was researching on the structural reasons for work migration especially in rural areas.

Gianina Cărbunariu is a director, playwright, manager of the Teatrul Tineretului, and curator of the theater festival in Piatra Neamț (since 2017). Her fictional scripts are usually inspired by well-documented interviews and archival research. Her performances have been staged by independent production associations, such as dramAcum and Piese Refractare, but also in collaboration with state theaters in Romania (the National Theater in Sibiu, the Odeon Theater and the Small Theatre in Bucharest, and the Hungarian State Theater) and abroad (the Centro Dramatico Nacional in Madrid, the Emilia Romagna Fondazione (ERT) in Modena, and the Kammerspiele Theater in Munich).

Jost Maurin is an editor of the economy and environment section at taz. He writes mainly on nutrition issues, such as agricultural policy, genetic engineering, pesticides, consumer protection, and the food industry. He received the Grüne Reportage journalism prize in 2014, 2017, and 2018, and in 2015 he was named best runner-up of the German Journalism Prize. Before Maurin joined taz he was an editor at the news agency Reuters and a trainee at the Süddeutsche Zeitung.