German politicians have rejected a proposal to introduce legally binding quotas to boost the low number of people with immigrant backgrounds in public sector jobs.
Immigrants make up a tiny percentage of public sector jobs in Germany
The German government's integration commissioner, Maria Boehmer proposed the initiative this week, saying it would ensure that the public service sector better mirrored the country's population.
Integration Commissioner Maria Boehmer proposed the plan
"In Germany, one in five residents has an immigrant background. It is, therefore, important that immigrants are appropriately represented in the public sector," Boehmer said in Berlin on Thursday.
But Germans politicians - both from Boehmer's own conservative Christian Democratic Party (CDU) as well as from the center-left opposition - have opposed the measure.
"A quota is not compatible with our constitutional and legal culture," Olaf Scholz, deputy head of the Social Democratic Party's (SPD) parliamentary group told daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.
"The goal of having more immigrants in public service jobs is a good one - but a quota is inappropriate," he added.
Immigrants a small fraction of public service sector
Around 4.5 million people work in the public sector in Germany. But people with immigrants roots account for just three percent, according to services trade union Verdi.
Hans-Peter Uhl, a conservative member of parliament, said he supported greater recruitment efforts of immigrants, but shot down the idea of imposing affirmative action laws.
"It's a legal automatism that leads to abuse," he said, adding that such an initiative would only be appropriate in cities with high immigrant populations.
But the head of the TGD Turkish advocacy group Kenan Kolat said quotas were a necessity.
"Only a quota can insure that the population structure mirrors itself in public and administrative offices," he told daily Berliner Zeitung.
Editor: Sonia Phalnikar