The arrival of many displaced persons and new immigrants in Germany heralds an era of great and unique challenges, writes Reiner Hoffmann, Chairman of the German Trade Union Federation (DGB).
As a result of this exceptional situation, an unusual and unique alliance promoting an international outlook, solidarity, democracy and rule of law has been formed. It is one of the largest civil society alliances ever seen in Germany and is affiliated with organizations and umbrella groups in the fields of religion, sports, social welfare, nature conservationism and arts and culture.
We are using our call to send out a clear and urgent political signal: Yes, the challenges are great. But we are convinced that we together, as a civil society and displaced persons, can match the challenges of the task. It will not be an effortless endeavor for anyone - neither for us nor the displaced persons or immigrants. Conditions and regulations are needed in order to make things work - as formulated in the call - along with investments in education, infrastructures and personnel.
We need a clear political stance - and we have one - to counter racism, inhumanity and hatred.
The 900 attacks on refugee shelters and a significant rightward shift in the politics of several EU member countries reveal a burgeoning development that must be stopped. Any attack on refugee homes is one too many. It must be clear to all that far larger and more important movements currently exist in Germany and in other countries hosting refugees: they can be found in the generosity and commitment of thousands of helpers, the tireless efforts of municipal employees, schools, the police force, businesses and homes for displaced persons and immigrants. We would like to use this call to take a stand against right-wing populists and right-wing extremists in any guise and ask everyone to confront them - out on the street, at work, or on the Internet.
We have established this alliance because integration and all its facets take place in the workplace, be it an office, a factory, a construction site or a supermarket. For decades, it has been the meeting place for people from different cultures and with different backgrounds. People who work on something together and thereby get to know each other are no longer strangers. Our union members and works councils will stand up for integration. Our alliance partners will make use of the means available in their organizational structures to advocate the aims of this call - but we also plan to develop joint policies.
The ten current alliance partners would also like to foster the growth of this alliance for openness in the world: this is not an exclusive organization. In the coming weeks, we will try to recruit more partners, organizations or public figures to support our cause.