A German town has halted a scheme offering asylum seekers 1.05 euros an hour to carry luggage at a station after rail operator Deutsche Bahn refused permission due to a public outcry and criticism that the project harked back to colonial times.
The southern German town of Schwaebisch Gmuend started the scheme recently for nine asylum seekers to help passengers get up a steep flight of metal steps erected at the station due to construction work.
The mayor originally said he hoped the program would help the integration of the town’s 250 asylum seekers, but pictures of the refugees, mostly from African nations, in bright red T-shirts and straw hats unleashed an outcry.
Complaints about the hourly rate — about eight times below the level German politicians cite for a minimum wage — poured into the mayor’s office and sparked a Facebook campaign.
Deutsche Bahn said it had not been aware of the conditions and would pay its own employees their normal rate to do the job. A spokesman for Schwaebisch Gmuend said that the conservative mayor was disappointed at Deutsche Bahn’s decision and blamed misplaced political correctness.