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Germany — Minimum wages for temporary employees are a major stumbling block in the general elections

15 September 2009

After 4 years of coalition between the CDU party (conservative) and the SPD party (labour), CDU are eyeing up the FDP (liberal democrats) as coalition partner after the general elections this month. However, there is fundamental disagreement on minimum wage for temporary employees, Financial Times Deutschland reports.

In Germany, minimum wages are not set by the government but by sector-by-sector bi-lateral agreements between unions and employer organisations (Tarifvertrag). Since temporary employment is regarded as a sector of its own, the usual bi-lateral agreements do not apply to them.

Karl Josef Laumann, CDU Minister for Labour of the federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia told the FTD, "if we don't include temporary employees in the current legislation we are working on, the industry will collapse in 2011. Temporary employment will not have a base any longer in Germany."
Mr. Laumann is referring to the opening up of the temporary employment sector for Eastern European temporary employment agencies. Laumann says further, "if we don't create a legal framework for a minimum wage for temporary employees Eastern European temporary employment agencies will offer workers at 3 Euro per hour."

"The problem is that the temporary employee unions will have to give up their current (highly reduced) wage agreements with employer organisations, which will be a problem because the unions disagree among each other on this."

The deputy head of potential CDU coalition partner FDP, Rainer Bruederle said, "minimum wages destroy jobs and put an end to wage negotiations between unions and employer organisations. Sensible people in the CDU can see that. We are not going to subscribe to an orgy of minimum wages. The greatest social injustice is not having a job at all. Instead of talking about minimum wages we should talk about a minimum income instead."



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