Germans lawmakers reject minimum wage

April 26, 2013 at 12:56 PM
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BERLIN, April 26 (UPI) -- German lawmakers have rejected a proposal to establish a minimum wage for the nation's workers.

Social-Democrat and Green party members pushed unsuccessfully for the wage legislation Thursday, EUobserver reported. Proponents of a minimum wage argue its needed to bolster living conditions in a country where unemployment is just 5.4 percent but pay scales are low and job stability is shaky, EUobserver said.

The low jobless rate can be traced, in part, to reforms made a decade ago under the Social-Green government of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The reforms made it easier for companies to hire and lay off workers, lowered taxes and trimmed social benefits, EUobserver said.

Social-Democrat leader Peer Steinbrueck, who is running against Chancellor Angela Merkel in elections scheduled for September, said a minimum wage would help produce a "socially just economy."

Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen has acknowledged the "widening income gap," but maintains a minimum wage isn't needed.

Enzo Weber, a macroeconomics and labor market professor at Regensburg University, said a minimum wage would not end the gap.

"The reason why problems are big in the low-income area is because there are too many low qualified workers for too few adequate jobs," he told EUobserver Thursday.

"There is virtually nothing for the people with low qualifications to get a job in a middle-qualified area. That's where there are a lot of jobs available, but not that many to take them, because it requires extra training. And that's where we should focus the labour market policies on."

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