German minister rejects minimum wage demands from conservatives

Reuters, Sunday 8 Jun 2014

German Labour Minister insists on introducing a draft law imposing a minimum wage of 8.50 euros per hour in Europe's biggest economy

German Labour Minister Andrea Nahles on Sunday dismissed demands from some of her coalition partners to change her plans for a minimum wage, currently going through parliament, and grant more exceptions to the new rules.
Introducing a minimum wage of 8.50 euros per hour in Europe's biggest economy from next year is a flagship project for the Social Democrats (SPD) who share power with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.
In her draft law, Social Democrat Nahles has allowed a few sectors to delay bringing in the wage for two years to help them adjust, but some conservatives have demanded more exceptions.
"From Jan. 1 2017 there will be a minimum wage of 8.50 euros (per hour) for all sectors and for all workers," she said, adding this was agreed in the coalition deal.
"I can only warn against betting that in the end the political agreement will not apply to this or the other branch," Nahles told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
Nahles did signal, however, that she may adjust her draft law in response to pressure from employers and unions who want the level of the minimum level to be reviewed every two years, rather than every year as outlined in the draft law.
"I am ready to talk about that. I think it's good if the employers and unions have a joint position," she said.
Over the weekend, some conservatives criticised the law, saying pensioners, interns and student assistants should not get a minimum wage. The law already grants a few exceptions for some trainees and interns.
"I am not ready just to wave through the draft put forward by Frau Nahles," senior conservative Michael Fuchs told a newspaper, in comments echoed by others.
The bill had its first reading in the Bundestag lower house of parliament last week and is due to be passed in July.
Employer lobbies have warned the plans will cost jobs and cause too much regulation.
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