BERLIN , July 3 (UPI) -- Germany's Bundestag legislature approved the country's first minimum wage Thursday, part of the power-sharing arrangement between chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party.
The approved wage, which left only six countries in the 28-member European Union without a minimum wage, was set at 8.5 euros ($11.56) per hour -- a figure higher than that of the United States or the United Kingdom. Trade unions and business organizations have traditionally set minimum pay scales in Germany.
Business leaders claim the wage scale will make Germany less competitive and will force companies to seek cheaper labor in other countries.
Others object to the concessions in the approved law, which does not cover the minimum wage of minors, interns or trainees, and features a two-year phase-in for some employers.
The measure must still be passed in the upper legislature, the Bundesrat.
In May, voters in Switzerland rejected a referendum to offer workers Europe's highest minimum wage.