City employees are freezing cold Workers’ council asks for fleece jackets for Bonn city administration staff
Bonn · In municipal offices in Bonn, temperatures are sometimes dipping below the 19 degrees Celsius mandated by the federal government. Some employees are finding it too chilly, especially when the temperature plunges outside. Newer buildings seem to have fewer problems maintaining an even temperature throughout.
Some municipal employees have found it too chilly in their offices, especially with the cold days recently. The workers’ council wrote in its newsletter that complaints were increasing because the 19 degrees Celsius (66.2° F) mandated by the federal government was not being kept throughout municipal buildings. One of the city buildings affected is the Stadthaus, which has housed the city administration since the 1970’s. It is located at the edge of Bonn city center.
Technical problems with old heating systems
"The temperatures in some offices are only 15 or 16 degrees Celsius. Add to that, there is a ventilation system," council member Christoph Busch told the GA. The reason for the varying temperatures, he said, is outdated heating technology, which does not allow a uniform temperature to be achieved. For this reason, the staff council has now passed a motion with the aim of allowing all employees to order fleece jackets and blankets if they so wish. Busch believes that such a purchase is sensible, also because so many people are sick.
The head of the personnel and organization office, Andreas Leinhaas, confirms the problem: "We regret very much if it is not possible in some cases to reach the legal maximum temperature of 19 degrees Celsius." Together with the Municipal Building Management (SGB), his office is endeavoring "to make technical adjustments to improve the working conditions for the employees concerned”.
The SGB is continuing to work on regulating the ventilation system so that the room temperature reaches the mandated 19°C on as many floors as possible. The switching times of the system were adjusted last week. After the weekends, it now starts up again at 3 a.m. on Mondays and at 4 a.m. on the other weekdays in order to bring the offices up to temperature at the start of the work day. Nevertheless, there could still be differences between floors and even on the same floor. Technical problems were encountered in particular when very cold air was drawn in. According to the press office, this is due to the age of the equipment. In some cases, however, the distribution of air flow is also impeded by the fact that ventilation shafts are blocked with furniture and files, which is also due to the layout with room dividers and filing cabinets.
The council's proposal to purchase warm jackets and blankets at the city's expense will not be implemented this winter. Aspects of "sustainability, durability, but also a necessary regular cleaning" are to be considered. A purchase in this season is therefore not to be expected. The administration wants to take up the request "with sufficient lead time and evaluate it collectively," according to the press office.
Federal Network Agency has adapted heating systems
The idea of providing warm clothing for the workforce has not yet occurred to anyone at the Federal Network Agency. "The distribution of warming clothing or blankets is not planned at the Federal Network Agency. Many employees have adapted to the situation on their own and dress warmly according to the situation," explained agency spokesman Fiete Wulff when asked. Employees can also work from home if they wish. Incidentally, this also applies to around 2,100 employees of the city.
The Federal Network Agency is currently the focus of public attention because its president, Klaus Müller, regularly reminds people not to lose sight of the federal government's savings targets for gas consumption. According to Wulff, the 1960’s buildings at the Tulpenfeld site “were successful" in heating the offices to 19° C as mandated. The heating technology had to be adjusted differently. At present, there are hardly any complaints from employees.
At Stadtwerke Bonn (SWB), building management has lowered the temperatures to 19° C "where technically and hygienically possible”. SWB spokeswoman Stefanie Zießnitz went on to explain that in offices with their own radiators, staff were encouraged to lower the temperatures themselves. The request was accompanied by an internal communication. "In addition, all employees in the offices received energy-saving tips and a thermometer the size of a credit card," Zießnitz said.
According to Telekom, as the largest employer in Bonn, it is possible to meet the requirements of the temperature mandate in the significantly newer office buildings. "We have had a collective agreement for mobile working for years. In consultation with their teams, our employees are flexible about being able to work from home," said company spokesman Peter Kespohl. This has proven successful and is also working well in the current situation, he added. An inquiry was made to Deutsche Post DHL on Tuesday concerning the heating situation but it had not responded by the editorial deadline.
(Original text: Philipp Königs / Translation: Carol Kloeppel)