Berlin moves against low-wage east Europeans

27th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

27 April 2005, BERLIN - Battling high unemployment and sagging polls, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government on Wednesday announced plans to radically expand a German law aimed at keeping out low-wage workers from eastern Europe.

27 April 2005

BERLIN - Battling high unemployment and sagging polls, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government on Wednesday announced plans to radically expand a German law aimed at keeping out low-wage workers from eastern Europe.

Up until now, only construction workers coming from other countries to work in Germany have had to conform to national wage agreements to eliminate what Berlin refers to as 'wage-dumping.'

This regulation will be extended to all sectors where employees are sent to Germany from abroad, said a statement. The legislation is due to be approved in the left-leaning German cabinet by mid-May.

"This is to ensure that ... all sectors have a chance for fair competition with foreign companies and the workers they send here through agreement on minimum wages and fair working conditions," said the statement.

There are fears in Germany that cheaper labour from Poland and the Baltic states, which joined the European Union last year, will flood into the country and undercut higher German wages.

The announcement comes after leading members of Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD) publicly attacked 'capitalism' and big business for boosting profits while cutting jobs in Germany.

The harsh rhetoric, which business leaders say is a return to the party's old class-struggle doctrine, has been hugely popular among SPD rank and file. Many SPD members are unhappy with Schroeder's reforms over past years including tax cuts and reductions to benefits for the unemployed.

Schroeder's government is struggling with unemployment at 12.5 percent, which translates into 5.2 million jobless.

The Chancellor's SPD face a tough election challenge in North Rhine-Westphalia state on 22 May where the incumbent SPD is trailing opposition conservatives, polls show.

A national Stern magazine RTL TV poll on Wednesday put the Chancellor's SPD-Greens alliance at 36 percent, compared with 53 percent for the opposition Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) and the Free Democrats.

Schroeder plans to seek a third term in Germany's next general election which is due in autumn 2006.

DPA

Subject: German news

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