Don’t bloc my road

So, do you enjoy to work for so little money?
Well, I don’t want to rip off my boss!

The 20 year old boy at the wheel of a brand new Mercedes-Benz limousine seems quite happy with his working conditions, while dashing down Autobahn A7 towards Frankfurt at a rate about 200 km per hour. Murat is employed as a driver for a German firm specialised in car transfers and logistics. Sociologists would call his position the lower end of the business outsourcing chain, Murat would call it his dream.

The setting: A leading German car rental agency (“A”) outsources the management of its fleet of cars and trucks to firm B. In turn, B subcontracts single jobs to firm X, Y and Z. Murat is employed as a driver by Firm X and earns less than five euro per hour for driving factory-new cars to car rental stations of “A” all over Germany.

One might think that an hourly wage of less than five euro is a pretty low remuneration according to German standards. You may hardly buy two beers in an average pub for the same money – or whatever comparison you might like to draw. Yet, Murat and many of his colleagues think that driving brand new and expensive vehicles is such a great pleasure – they would even do it for free.

Actually some of them even do so – as speed limit fines have to be covered by the drivers themselves. For those with a more racy way of driving, fines can amount to the wage of the last 25 hour shift…bad luck, but these cars are not made for driving slowly. And what else can you do with an engine of 170 horse power and more? Considering that fuel consumption doesn’t matter at all, driving the cars to their limits is what the job is about.

Yet, even with a new powerful car that still smells like only fabric-new cars do, a traffic jam or a blocked road is nasty. The more so, as the time spend in a traffic jam is lost time for the drivers. Murat gets paid for a pre-set working time, not for the – usually longer – time he really spends on the road.

While on a bad day only vans or trucks have to be transferred, a perfect day however brings fancy Mercedes, BMWs, Audis and the like –  the bigger the better.

Murat and many of his colleagues might never be able to have their own new Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse or BMW 5. They got this job because of a single attestable qualification: a valid driving license. Many of the drivers come from the Turkish or Polish communities of Berlin, they are very young and change from one temporary job to another once in a while. Calling a status symbol like a limousine their possession seems to be something many of the boys long for but only a few will be able to achieve.

Autobahn, linke Spur

With fast cars on the German motorway system, the drivers get around in the country quite a lot. Berlin, Hamburg, Köln, Frankfurt and Leipzig during one single shift is not an exception – the dispatcher wants them to be fast and efficient.

Germany has the perfect infrastructure for this job: one of the most dense motorway networks in the world, many with three lanes in each direction. Furthermore, on 60 percent of German motorways there exists no speed limit at all. Every political attempt to introduce a general speed limit on motorways was doomed to fail – to the luck of our young acquaintance on the fast lane. 

With tough competition among subcontractors, wages tend to decrease even further. Still, this does not inhibit the many new people to apply as drivers. At their first day at work newcomers will learn a few important rules: “No Smoking in the cars”, “Always back into a parking space” and “Avoid screeching tyres in the vicinity of rental stations


Text and Pictures by Felix Wolf
This article was posted in Bloc and tagged .

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