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German city turns down heat in offices, hands out jackets

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BERLIN, GERMANY: A view from a traditional Christmas market as held by the effect of the energy crisis in Berlin, Germany on November 21, 2022. (Abdulhamid Hoşbaş - Anadolu Agency)
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Nov 25, 2022 - 01:17 AM

BERLIN (AA) – To ensure that municipal employees in a southwestern German city don’t freeze in winter, the city is now offering them winter jackets free of charge.

The cause is the energy-saving plans in the city of Villingen-Schwenningen. Due to the energy crisis fueled by the Ukraine war, many companies, officials, and administrations have set heaters to a minimum. In Villingen-Schwenningen, temperatures in offices and public service departments are being lowered to 19C (66.2F).

To help keep workers warm, the city ordered some 1,600 gray jackets with the city’s coat of arms at a price of €28.50 ($29.70) apiece.

Madlen Falke, a city spokeswoman, told public broadcaster SWR: “With these room temperatures and the predominantly sedentary nature of the work, the staff quickly get chilly.”

The jackets are a sign of the employer’s duty to take care, Falke added. She said the garments’ uniform design is also meant to strengthen the sense of community and identification with the employer.

The Kreissparkasse bank in nearby Ludwigsburg also provides its employees with winter clothing. A dark gray mottled jacket and black winter gloves are also provided, because here too the heat has been lowered to 19C.

The IG-Metall trade union in Reutlingen and Stuttgart has brought the lowering of room temperatures to conserve energy.

Ralf Jaster, union secretary of IG-Metall in Reutlingen, told SWR that a fleece jacket doesn’t help with cold feet.

He added: “Typing with gloves on doesn’t work.”

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