The corona virus dominates the headlines of 2020. In the beginning, everything revolved around medical aspects, but as time went on, short-time work, the threat of company bankruptcies and existential fears came more and more into focus.
A field of tension in which the domestic craft businesses also find themselves. Their situation in the pandemic varies greatly from industry to industry, however, as district master craftsman heinrich schneider notes during an interview in his carpentry shop in theisenort. Mr. Schneider, how did the skilled trades in the kronach district react to the lockdown and the hygiene decreases?? Heinrich schneider: the uncertainty was great in the beginning. We have implemented the specifications to the best of our knowledge and belief. But in the course of time, they overtook each other so quickly that we hardly knew what the current status was. There was different information every day. The kreishandwerkerschaft has supported us well in this phase. The important thing was that we were then classified as systemically important. We were and are very careful in our work. There were no problems at all with the police and the authorities. While others were in lockdown, many craftsmen had to work on-site for customers. Was this performance perceived by the public?? There have really been people who have said: "it’s okay that you come." in the beginning, there was sometimes a bit more tip money from one or the other employee. How were such work visits from the point of view of the craftsmen?? Some of those who had to go to the customer did not feel good afterwards when they went back to their colleagues in the workshop. We also heard of a case in which a customer denied a corona infection, which paralyzed an entire workshop. We occasionally had to ask our craftsmen to distance themselves from a customer, but the behavior of most people was really okay. There was a lot of common sense and a lot of decency involved. Does the crisis affect the craft sector at the economic level?? The skilled trades are much more resilient to such situations than industry is. Exceptions are of course branches such as our hairdressers, butchers or bakers, who were hit hard by the protection measures. If you have worked close to people, short-time work was already an issue. Apart from that, however, the structure of the skilled trades is different – better – than that of industry. We’re more familiar, in industry the employee becomes a number much more quickly. But the amount of work that had to be done to organize the various acceptance tests was quite a challenge for us. And then there were certainly also delivery bottlenecks. Correct. Procuring materials was difficult at the beginning. Because some suppliers quickly went into short-time work, some things became scarce. It could happen that a craftsman produced something for 10,000 euros, but then he was missing a 50-euro component for it. The only thing that often helped was to look for alternatives ourselves – and that in turn meant more work for us. That’s why I’m also against making such a blanket demand for short-time work again. What has helped the craft in this situation? The reduction in value-added tax, at least, hardly. It gave us blob more work. Only those craftsmen who have sold trades, for them it is good. In my opinion, the lever had to be applied to social security contributions; what a good employee earns today is too little, but what he costs the company is too much. There is a huge gap. What would mean another lockdown for the craft?? It will hit even harder the companies that have already been hit by the first lockdown. Then our customers certainly became more cautious, because they could no longer foresee where the journey would take them. And once again, people were no longer so relaxed. The interview was conducted by marco meibner