Coalition agrees on longer jobless benefits

13th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

13 November 2007, Berlin - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's broad governing coalition struck a deal on paying extended unemployment benefits to older claimants but failed to agree on other issues after six hours of wrangling into the early hours of Tuesday.

13 November 2007

Berlin - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's broad governing coalition struck a deal on paying extended unemployment benefits to older claimants but failed to agree on other issues after six hours of wrangling into the early hours of Tuesday.

Merkel's conservative Christian bloc, the CDU/CSU, met demands from their junior partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), for an extension of jobless benefits for those older than 50.

But the parties could not agree on a minimum wage in the postal sector, which is undergoing market reforms throughout the European Union to facilitate competition from companies challenging the former state-run monopolies.

The coalition partners also agreed to cut compulsory contributions to the state's unemployment fund, which is in surplus as a result of a strong economy.

After the meeting in Berlin, SPD chairman Kurt Beck expressed irritation at the CDU/CSU on the postal wage issue, indirectly accusing Merkel of breaking a pledge.

Deutsche Post is to lose its monopoly on delivering letters at the beginning of next year. It has already lost its parcel monopoly.

At the annual SPD congress last month, Beck marched the party to the left. Among the motions passed was the demand for extended unemployment benefits to older claimants.

A little more than halfway through the four-year term of parliament, Germany's political parties have begun to position themselves for elections that must be held by September 2009.

A recent poll gave the CDU/CSU 40 per cent of the vote while the SPD had 30. The liberal FDP, the Greens and the Left Party - all currently on the opposition benches - divided the remaining support among them.

DPA

Subject: German news

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