Labour groups step up battle for minimum wage

27th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

27 March 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Labour groups were stepping up Tuesday their battle for Germany to introduce a minimum wage after parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition admitted they remain stalemated on the emotive issue. It is an offence in several western European nations to pay very low hourly rates, but senior Berlin officials warn that a minimum wage might deny opportunities to enter Germany's regulated labour market. The issue has created internal divisions among Merkel's Christian Dem

27 March 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Labour groups were stepping up Tuesday their battle for Germany to introduce a minimum wage after parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition admitted they remain stalemated on the emotive issue.

It is an offence in several western European nations to pay very low hourly rates, but senior Berlin officials warn that a minimum wage might deny opportunities to enter Germany's regulated labour market.

The issue has created internal divisions among Merkel's Christian Democrats, her Social Democrat coalition partners and even within the trade union movement. Labour Minister Franz Muentefering, the ranking Social Democrat in the government, has opposed a blanket minimum.

At late-night talks Monday on help for the jobless, the coalition parties agreed to subsidize on-the-job training for unskilled youths and job creation for 100,000 difficult-to-employ adults, but failed to find a compromise formula to please all on a minimum wage.

The Social Democrats launched a petition Monday for a minimum wage and the pro-labour wing of the Christian Democrats did likewise Tuesday. Leftists in Germany have seized on the issue and charged that the mainstream parties have no heart for the very poor.

Labour Minister Muentefering signed the Social Democrat petition, but suggested a compromise would be to create an offence of "unconscionable" pay, leaving it to judges to decide what was fair.

Collective wage agreements in Germany's construction industry are legally binding for all workers on building sites, and Muentefering has suggested this system could be extended to other industries.

A leading opponent of a national minimum, Ronald Pofalla, general secretary of the Christian Democratic Union, warned that a threshold wage would squeeze "hundreds of thousands of jobs" out of existence.

Proponents say a minimum might boost incomes of low-pay workers such as junior hairdressers, currently paid 3.06 euros (4.08 dollars) per hour under a union contract in one German state, and hotel maids, who earn just 4.10 euros per hour.

DPA

Subject: German news

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