R.achid Ratzmann is now looking forward to booking numbers that would have brought tears to his eyes earlier. A good quarter of the 152 rooms in the 25 Hours Hotel in Frankfurt’s Bahnhofsviertel are occupied on this warm day at the end of May. There were times in winter when it was only 4 or 5 percent. “There are signs of a way out of the crisis. Finally, ”says reception manager Ratzmann. It sounds like he’d like to send a sigh of relief afterward.
The attractive bookings are good news not only for the hotel, but also for the employees who have been on short-time work for more than a year. “The winter was disgusting,” says Ratzmann, 32 years old. “I’m being completely honest about that.” Sometimes he felt like he was in a marathon, only without knowing how far it was to the finish line. He has worked two to three days a week on average since November. “That means you don’t do anything for three to four days.” He soon got tired of going for a walk, and with the initial to-do lists – calling someone from the phone book every day, doing sports, playing the ukulele – at some point it was too past. In order to have something to do, he looked for a € 450 job at the beginning of January.
“That was always, my company”
But now things are finally looking up again. “So that we don’t get each other wrong: We are still in a crisis,” says Tim Döhring, the boss of the two 25-hour stores in Frankfurt. But he and his team are preparing for even more people to come soon, not just business travelers, but tourists as well. The window cleaner was there, the staff cleaned the carpets, polished the wood in the sauna and bought new plants for the roof terrace. “We’re even hiring again,” says Döhring, almost as if he could hardly believe it himself. We are looking for two receptionists and two trainees.
Like the Frankfurt hotel, many companies across Germany are currently returning from the Corona low – and with them their employees. After the number of short-time workers in the second and third waves of the Corona crisis initially increased continuously due to the new restrictions – to a peak of 3.27 million – it is now falling sharply again. Detlef Scheele, CEO of the Federal Employment Agency, believes that it could soon drop below the two million mark – but that would also be significantly more than at the height of the economic and financial crisis in 2009.
It is not known how many people have been on short-time work since the beginning of the crisis, but the proportion is likely to be quite high in some industries such as the hospitality industry or aviation. Anyone who speaks to those affected quickly notices that time has left its mark in one way or another. Some – like reception manager Ratzmann – are just happy that things are going on again. Others are working on a plan B because of the still uncertain prospects.
Like Christa Singer. She has just received the next message from her boss, again only after several inquiries and via Whatsapp: another three months of short-time work, still 100 percent. This has been going on since the end of March last year. Singer, whose real name should not appear in the newspaper, works for a family-run machine tool manufacturer in the Stuttgart area, “for 31 years”, as she emphasizes. But in the past few months she has not felt anything of the familiar atmosphere in such establishments. There has been no personal conversation for a long time, she says.