Germany to get more childcare centres

15th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

15 May 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Germany's ruling parties approved a massive expansion of childcare facilities but were unable to agree on another issue that has divided the government - introduction of a minimum wage. Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition agreed to a tripling of nursery school facilities by 2013 in a move that would guarantee every family a place in the state day-care system. The move to create new childcare provisions is part of a bid to catch up with other European countries on family politic

15 May 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Germany's ruling parties approved a massive expansion of childcare facilities but were unable to agree on another issue that has divided the government - introduction of a minimum wage.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition agreed to a tripling of nursery school facilities by 2013 in a move that would guarantee every family a place in the state day-care system.

The move to create new childcare provisions is part of a bid to catch up with other European countries on family politics and encourage mothers to work and reverse a declining birthrate.

Leaders of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) welcomed the agreement, which ended months of wrangling on the issue.

SPD chairman Kurt Beck called it a "breakthrough," while Edmund Stoiber, leader of the CDU's Bavarian sister party CSU, spoke of "a good, acceptable compromise."

Stoiber said the deal, brokered after hours of talks that went on until the early hours of Tuesday, would also lead to a monthly payment of 150 euros (202 dollars) for families who raise their children at home.

The SPD expressed disappointment that no deal had been struck on a minimum wage, which it wants introduced in a bid to win back the votes of workers who have turned their backs on the party.

Labour unions want a minimum hourly wage of 7.50 euros (10.12 dollars) to protect German workers from being undercut by cheap foreign labour, but Merkel's CDU says a new minimum wage would lead to job losses.

Last month Germany's federal states endorsed the childcare plan adopted Monday, which calls for tripling the number of day care places for children under age three to 750,000 by 2013.

The move was championed by Family Affairs Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a mother of seven who has aroused the ire of conservatives who see the changes as a break with traditional family values.

Von der Leyen's plans are designed to help more women return to work after having children in a country where traditionalists believe new mothers should stay at home to look after their offspring.

At present, Germany lags behind its European neighbours in providing day care. Figures released by the government show only 13.5 per cent of children under three attend nursery schools, compared with the European average of 35 per cent.

DPA

Subject: German news

0 Comments To This Article