SPD divided on penalty forfailing to provide trainee

19th April 2004, Comments 0 comments

19 April 2004 , BERLIN - Germany's ruling Social Democrat Party is meeting Monday in a bid to settle profound internal differences over plans to penalise employers for failing to create places for trainees. A weekend meeting between SPD chief Franz Muentefering and the party's state premiers failed to end the dispute over the controversial new law. It is aimed at boosting places for trainees, with Muentefering also set to hold talks with the unions and employers on the proposals later this week. Drawn up b

19 April 2004

BERLIN - Germany's ruling Social Democrat Party is meeting Monday in a bid to settle profound internal differences over plans to penalise employers for failing to create places for trainees.

A weekend meeting between SPD chief Franz Muentefering and the party's state premiers failed to end the dispute over the controversial new law. It is aimed at boosting places for trainees, with Muentefering also set to hold talks with the unions and employers on the proposals later this week.

Drawn up by parliamentary members of the SPD, the law seeks to impose a tax on companies failing to create places for trainees.

The dispute over places for trainees in effect opens a new front in the battle over Germany's high unemployment, which has been a factor in sending the Social Democrats' approval rating plummeting to record lows.

While not excluding changes to the legislation, Muentefering insisted on German television Monday that the law would be enacted by the start of next month.

"The law comes in any case", he told Germany's N-TV.

But lined up against the new law are powerful party opponents, including the premiers of the North-Rhine Westphalia, Rheinland-Pfalz and Schleswig-Holstein, Peer Steinbrueck, Kurt Beck and Heidi Simonis, who have all questioned whether the tax will fulfil its aim.

Moreover, each of the three states operate their own joint government and industrial projects which are designed to help create places for trainees.

In addition, Beck has proposed that instead of the tax a government-employer fund should be established to promote training.

According to SPD general secretary Klaus Uwe Benneter, once enacted, the law would would show whether employers created enough trainee places by September.

Echoing Benneter's comments, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said at the weekend that it was up to employers whether the tax was introduced.

The problem for government supporters of the tax is that they need the support of North-Rhine Westphalia to push the law through parliament.

Combined with the rejection of the law by the opposition- controlled states, the failure of Muentefering to win over Steinbruck to the penalty would mean that there was a two-thirds majority against the legislation in the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, which also represents Germany's 16 states.

DPA

Subject: German news

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