Merkel party to push for German minimum wage

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Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel's party wants to introduce a minimum wage in Europe's top economy, according to a draft resolution, in a surprise move hailed by one newspaper as a "revolution."

Merkel's conservatives "consider it necessary to introduce a generally binding minimum wage in the areas where a contractually fixed wage does not exist," says the motion to be debated at a party congress November 13 to 15.

"The question is no longer 'are we going to have a minimum wage' but how we are going to negotiate its exact level," said Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen, from the same CDU party, in an interview with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Minimum wages, which would mark a fundamental change in German industrial policy, would have to be determined by a commission using wages for temporary work as a guideline and not imposed by the state, according to the motion.

"The chancellor sees it as an issue concerning the dignity of work," Georg Streiter, a spokesman for Merkel, told a regular briefing.

The 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.

Labour unions have long been in favour. Frank Bsirske, head of service sector union Verdi, said last month that "the pressure in society is so great that politicians will have to react."

"It would be a revolution if the CDU adopts this motion," the Financial Times Deutschland said.

© 2011 AFP

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