Merkel calls for minimum wage in sectors without one

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants a minimum wage in sectors without one in a bid to create a "fair" labour market in the eurozone's top economy, she told German news agency dpa on Wednesday.

Merkel said in an interview ahead of a congress of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the eastern city of Leipzig next week that her party was ready to tackle the issue after years of resistance.

"People want a fair labour market and see that there are weaknesses," she said. "The world is changing and a major party like the CDU must find the right approach to these changes on the basis of the values that define us."

Merkel said she opposed a bid by the labour wing of her party to pass a motion at the Leipzig congress for a national minimum wage of around seven euros ($10) per hour, calling instead for a more flexible model.

"We should leave it to a commission of wage partners (employers and employees) to set varying minimum wages for each region and industry in areas where there is no wage agreement," she said.

The motion put forward late last month calls for a minimum wage determined by a commission using wages for temporary work as a guideline.

That is currently 7.01 euros per hour in former communist east Germany and 7.89 euros in the west of the country.

Merkel's centre-right coalition has until now opposed a single minimum wage, saying that individual sectors should continue to set salary agreements with their employees based on market conditions.

The opposition parties have expressed their agreement in principle but have called for more concrete proposals.

© 2011 AFP

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