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Leaders of the German Social Democrats (SPD) have been given approval by their party to start coalition talks with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Permission was granted after leaders of the SPD promised to wring concessions from the Chancellor on minimum wages, equal pay, and infrastructure investment, reports euractiv.com.
A month after the election and following negotiations with other political parties, discussions between the CDU and the centre-left SPD are expected to begin on Wednesday. The SPD’s willingness to enter into talks comes at a price. The party has listed 10 demands it calls ‘non-negotiable’; including a minimum wage of €8.50 per hour, equal pay for men and women, greater investment in infrastructure and education. And a common strategy to boost Eurozone growth.
The SPD declared: “We will negotiate hard so that in the end a workable government emerges. Compromises will be necessary. However, the party considers the following points non-negotiable.” The implementation of a minimum wage is their first priority.
Angela Merkel’s CDU and their Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) favour ‘wage floors’ on a regional or sectorial basis, set by employers and unions. Volker Kauder, head of the CDU’s parliamentary group said that he was sure they could reach a deal. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said any new regulation must not threaten jobs.
SPD Chairman Sigmar Gabriel said: “We aim to form a government by Christmas.”
Germany’s leading economic institutes warned last week that the introduction of a minimum wage could lead to significant job losses in eastern Germany, where a quarter of workers earn less than the proposed new amount.
In September it was announced that an agreement had been reached between the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DBG) and the employer’s association of the temporary staffing industry (VGZ) to increase minimum wages incrementally until 2016. From the 1 January 2014 the minimum wage will be €8.50 in the West and €7.86 in the East.