A Roofer in Germany
Martin Felder, 29, is a master roofer in Bergisch Gladbach, near Cologne. He runs his own business, employing another master craftsman, one apprentice and a hired hand in a so-called ‘mini job’ (which exempts monthly earnings below €450 from income tax). This year he plans to expand his team. He lives with his girlfriend and daughter.
Income, basic costs, retirement provisions
Martin Felder works roughly 55 hours a week. Once staff costs, materials, loans and other expenses have been deducted, his gross monthly income comes to nearly €3,800 (£3,400). Of this, he pays about €750 towards the statutory health and long-term care insurance, and another €700 towards his pension. Tax on wages comes to around €600 with another €1,000 for fixed expenses such as rent, life and disability insurance. Was bedeutet Ihnen Arbeit?
What does working mean to you?
Making something with my own two hands. Looking at my day’s work in the evening fills me with a sense of pride. If everything goes well, my colleagues and I will have laid thousands of tiles on the roof of a new building. Part of a successful outdoor job is also winding down with your colleagues at the end of the day with a Kölsch beer. Welche sind Ihre größten Probleme, und wie gehen Sie damit um?
What is most important to your working life?
Being able to trust the word of others. That’s true both at work and in my private life.
What are your biggest problems and how do you deal with them?
I spend a lot of time and money meeting all the regulations imposed by the authorities. I have to install insulation, meet fire safety regulations and ensure that certain hazardous materials are disposed of professionally. However, I am partially reconciled by the knowledge that this does benefit the environment and improve safety.
How do you treat yourself?
Once every two years I go on a men’s trip to Mallorca with some old friends from secondary school. In the mornings, we treat ourselves to a schnitzel and afterwards we laze around on the beach. The mobile phones are switched off.
What do you want in the future, and what are you doing to achieve that?
My profession is seriously under threat. Fewer and fewer school-leavers want to learn skilled manual trades. To kindle interest in the roofing craft, I give regular lectures at secondary schools and offer work placements.
What is your biggest dream?
I would like to build a half-timbered house with the help of other craftsmen. I spent part of my life in that kind of house and I enjoyed the homely atmosphere. I would like to bring that to life again. And the living room must have a fireplace, of course.
Population: 82 million inhabitants
Currency: euro (1 euro = 100 cents)
GDP per capita (2017: €39,475
Human Development Index: 4th place (out of 188 countries)
Current average costs
1 pair of work trousers: 22€
1 bottle of Kölsch beer, 0.5l: 1.30€
1 traditional bread roll and cheese (in brewery): 4.50€
1 admission to swimming pool: 5.90€
1 ticket to traditional carnival event Lachende Kölnarena: 45€
1 match ticket for FC Cologne (standing): 16€