Download as PDF: March 2019

Good News: 900 jobs every week

„Berlin Partner“ and the Federal Employment Agency see Berlin as Germany’s largest magnet for skilled workers. The total number of employees increased by 3.7 percent in 2018 – more than in any other federal state. Since 2014, 216,000 new jobs have been created, almost half of which were filled by highly qualified people. For this year 900 new jobs per week (!) are forecasted.

  • Thank you, God, for this good development

Strikes in the Civil Service Sector

After several warning strikes, the unions GEW and ver.di called for strikes in Berlin on February 26th and 27th. Negotiations will be held on February 28th and March 1st. The call for a strike concerns all employees of the public day-care centres, public schools, universities and colleges (except HTW), district offices and all other employees of the state of Berlin. The majority of civil servants work very hard and receive relatively little public recognition.

Prayer:

  • Pray for a good and quick completion of wage negotiations
  • Pray for reasonable wages and salaries
  • Pray for blessing, perseverance, and sound judgment for all public service workers
  • Pray for more jobs for pre-school teachers

725 Million for Berlin’s Infrastructure

As long as taxpayers‘ money in Berlin is still abundant, the Senate wants to spend surplus funds on important investment projects and reserves. Since 2012, the Berlin budget has been producing surpluses, but with 57.6 billion euros, Berlin is still deep in debt. 725 million euros of the 2.4 billion euros surplus income for the year 2018 are to be allocated to the „Special Fund Infrastructure of the Growing City“ (Siwana). This has now been agreed upon by the coalition parties of the SPD, Left and Greens. 75 million will go into the sustainability fund as a reserve for the times of the nationwide debt brake (beginning 2020).

The largest amount will be invested in public transport, such as in electric buses, bike paths, Wi-Fi in subways. Schools and day-care centres will receive funding of 65 million euros. Other major items on the list: 70 million for housing and the exercise of pre-emptive rights in protecting the architectural and social mix of individual neighbourhoods; 57.5 million for refugees and integration; 20 million for new large equipment of the Charité Clinic. The interreligious „House of One“ will receive 10 million (plus 10 million from the federal government) and 2 million will go into the planning for the reconstruction of the synagogue Fraenkelufer.

Prayer:

  • Thank God for the budget surpluses and new investments
  • Pray for responsible management of the allocated money
  • Pray for quick implementation that will serve the best interests of the city, its residents and visitors

 

Anti-Bullying-Campaigns

Bullying in Berlin schools is a real and often underestimated problem. For a long time people have been aware of students‘ violence against students, of marginalization and denigration, also called bullying. This happens in schools, but also through social networks. The affected students are often helpless and find little to no support from other students and adults as well. In 2016, the Berlin School Education Administration commissioned a „program against violence in schools“. The program will include prevention, education, and anti-bullying training in schools and teacher training. In addition, more social workers, school psychologists and student conflict counsellors will be hired to work in schools. Parents can get involved through a parental representative. Police are already offering to send prevention teams to schools on request. After the suicide of an eleven-year-old girl – probably because of bullying – the student-to-student initiative „We Against Mobbing“ was also launched by students. Projects of students against bullying can be supported here: https://www.gofundme.com/anti-mobbing-app

Prayer:

  • Pray for all students who are being bullied, that someone will see their distress, and that they can find people to help them
  • Pray that teachers and social workers can identify and respond to bullying
  • Pray that respect for the dignity of the individual will be modelled in families and that parents can influence their children

Housing Construction

A first glimmer of hope in the area of rising rents is that the Senate has suspended the scheduled rent increase for 46,200 social housing in Berlin on April 1. This prevents even public housing projects from becoming more expensive and thus unaffordable for financially weak residents. With regard to the new building, however, a dispute between building Senator Lompscher and the housing societies is emerging. The original target of 30,000 new apartments has been revised downwards several times. At present, only 24,000 apartments can be built in the next few years. A major problem remains in that the prices for new housing for low-income earners are only affordable with high subsidies. The FDP politician Czaja has proposed a construction summit with municipal housing societies, cooperatives, investors, districts, Senate and opposition.

Prayer:

  • Thank God for the suspension of the rent increase this year
  • Pray that Senator Lompscher makes the right decisions to speed up housing construction
  • Pray for constructive agreements for social housing also with private investors

 

The Community Organizing

The community organizing “We in Neukölln” is intensively involved again this year in launching a thematic campaign. The goal is to hear as many voices as possible from the approximately 20 different member groups. The Together for Berlin group met in the International Mission Church (mostly Indians and Tamils) and the Iranian church. The topics that were visible here were, among others, the lack of living space for university students and refugees – and the situation in the schools. All these topics will be collected by the end of March and then evaluated in a large joint action. Two topics will be chosen to be jointly addressed on a political level with those responsible.

Prayer:

  • Pray for a good process in the topic selection
  • Pray that people will be motivated to work on the topics
  • Pray for open doors on the part of the decision makers

 

New Family Forum

At the beginning of February, the forum „Marriage and Family“ was founded by Together for Berlin. A promising start with 48 representatives of family centres, organisations and initiatives, foundations, a midwife practice and a bridal fashion business came together! Among them were marriage and family counsellors, pastors, mentors, therapists, psychologists, educators. The goal was to work together on how to better connect the different services, but also how the existing offer can be made accessible to a wider public or what else could still be developed.

Prayer:

  • Pray for a good selection of the first topics to be tackled together
  • Pray for the finances for public relations
  • Pray for open doors among politicians and in society

 

Planned Reorganisation of the Police

The Berlin Police Director Barbara Slowik has been in office for ten months. She has now presented her plans for a comprehensive structural reform. For the time being, these are only „rough plans“, which will now be discussed in detail with trade unions and staff councils. Slowik wants to turn the police around. In the central districts, for example, there is to be a new focal point directorate which triples its police presence there. A new State Police Directorate will focus on strategic direction. Management structures and decision-making processes will be streamlined and law enforcement bundled. The traffic police will be upgraded to a directorate. The state criminal police will include the new department of terrorism. The far-reaching proposals have provoked criticism from opposition politicians and professional associations.

Prayer:

  • Pray for a constructive voting process on police reform
  • Pray for effective measures to increase security and fight crime

 

Keeping On: Clan Crime

The police and the judiciary continue to intensify their efforts against criminal family clans. Although crimes committed by large Arab families make up only a fraction of organized crime, the state is upgrading. Masked Special Forces stormed homes or restaurants nearly a dozen times in the previous year alone. The responsible senior prosecutor is being escorted by bodyguards. Three senators are currently planning new steps in the anti-clan struggle.

Let us continue to pray for effective action and visible progress.

 

Dates

March 13, 6pm: Prayer for city politics in front of the Rote Rathaus

 

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