Europe

Luxembourg working poor relying on subsidized grocery stores

Luxembourg working poor relying on subsidized grocery stores

poverty

4 minutes

16:31 today

Despite having a full-time job in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, employees must seek help when buying food.

Despite having a full-time job in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, employees must seek help when buying food.

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Caritas has four subsidized grocery stores in Luxembourg, where more than 5,000 people shop.

Photo provider: Gerry Huberty

Marlene Bray

A group of people lined up outside the corner store are waiting for the door to open with a large bag or trolley.

However, this is not a luxury grocery store that sells large quantities of luxury goods. A subsidized grocery store where only those who can prove that they are short of income can shop.

In response to the financial crisis, a subsidized grocery store was first established in Luxembourg in 2009. They were popular during the pandemic and are once again popular due to rising prices.

I work all the time, but that’s not enough

Some of the people in the line were working that day or were on their way to work.

One young man is a full-time chef, but he doesn’t make enough money. Behind him is a woman with a baby carriage looking for a job. “Finding a job is not easy,” she said, pointing at her scarf. The father of the child earns the minimum wage, which is barely enough to maintain a small family.

Many customers work full-time.But that’s not enough because the rent is too high or they are single parents

Carol Lekinger, Caritas Luxembourg

“We have quite a few customers who work full-time,” said Carole Reckinger, a social policy consultant at Caritas Luxembourg. “But that’s not enough because the rent is too high or they are single parents. It’s very different.”

The Grand Duchy, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, has the second highest risk of the working poor throughout the European Union, second only to Romania.

For those who work, the risk of poverty has increased over the past few years, despite their work. By 2020, 12% of people working in Luxembourg lived below the poverty line, according to data from the EU statistics agency Eurostat.

<!–[if IE 9]><![endif]–>Carol Leckinger of Caritas says people with full-time jobs must use a subsidized grocery store.

Carol Leckinger of Caritas says people with full-time jobs must use a subsidized grocery store.

Luc Deflorenne

“The numbers are always at least a year old,” Reckinger said. “It may work for the current crisis.”

Housing payment

The minimum wage in Luxembourg is the highest in the EU, at € 2,776 per month for skilled workers and € 2,313 for unskilled workers.

“The sum itself doesn’t really mean anything,” said Luca Ratti, a professor of labor law at the University of Luxembourg who studied the so-called working poor.

The minimum wage is almost 10 times that of Bulgaria

University of Luxembourg Luca Ratti

“The minimum wage is almost 10 times that of Bulgaria,” he said. “Of course, that sounds amazing at first glance. But, of course, how someone can live on their income depends a lot on their living expenses. Looking at living expenses in Luxembourg, here It’s easy to see why the minimum amount of money is so high. “

And the exorbitant home prices in Luxembourg play a big role. People affected by the working poor are most suffering from rising housing costs. In 2019, more than one-third of tenants spent more than 40% of their income on rent and heating, according to the Luxembourg Institute of Social and Economic Research (LISER). According to the data, 20% of households with the lowest wages spend half of their income on housing.

Struggle of single parents

Some EU countries, including Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Italy and Cyprus, do not have a statutory minimum wage. That is, there is a minimum wage for the entire sector. Germany’s minimum wage per hour was 9.82 euros at the beginning of the year, but will be raised to 12 euros per hour, close to 13 euros per hour in Luxembourg.

“The difference is negligible, but the cost of living here is enormous,” Rathi said. He believes that single parents belong to another tax class and should increase their tax credits to help those in need.

Caritas has four subsidized grocery stores in Luxembourg, where more than 5,000 people shop. People have to prove that their income is not enough to cover their costs in order to be able to shop there. Still, according to Caritas, 14% of those who go there to buy groceries work full-time on a fixed-term contract, and 6% have a full-time contract.

Many people continue to feel embarrassed about visiting a store, and often only begin to show up when they run out of all their savings and are in dire straits.

“The problem is that the prices of basic foods such as oil, flour and meat are skyrocketing,” says Lekinger. “Our purchase prices are rising, with Caritas and the Red Cross dominating, but we can’t completely absorb them, so so are social store prices.”

Translated by Held Pritchard)


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