BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – With the increase in the statutory minimum wage on October 1, millions of workers in Germany can expect higher incomes. The Bundestag passed the law of the labor minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) on Friday in Berlin with the votes of the coalition and the left. The members of the Union and the AfD abstained from voting. The gross minimum wage is currently € 9.82. It will rise regularly to EUR 10.45 on July 1 and to EUR 12 on October 1. At the same time, the limit for mini-jobs will increase from 450 to 520 euros in October.
The draft law assumes that about 6.2 million workers are currently employed, whose hourly wage does not exceed EUR 12. Later, the Minimum Wage Committee, made up of employers and employees, will be again responsible for setting the wage floor. Then, probably by January 1, 2024, it should exceed EUR 12.
As Heil said in the debate, East German women and people benefited disproportionately from the raise. For many, wage growth is arguably the biggest wage spike in their lives. Heil said the minimum wage would not have been increased without Olaf Scholz as chancellor. The SPD politician made raising the lower wage limit the main promise of the federal election campaign.
Main concerns about inflation:
Several speakers warned that the current price explosion was threatening the very existence of many people. Left-wing budget expert Gesine Ltzsch said: “It should actually be € 13 now.” Another help package is needed. Heil referred to the normal-to-low-income tax relief launched by the coalition. Social affairs expert Andreas Audretsch said full-time workers should not be exposed to poverty. Increasing the minimum wage also increases purchasing power.
CDU social expert Hermann Grhe accused the coalition of chaotic voices in stopping huge price increases. If further price increases were allowed, even a higher minimum wage would be of little use. Grhe justified the Union’s disagreement by saying that she did not want to help “deprive the social partners of electoral rights”.
SPD MP Dagmar Schmidt admitted: “Many people have to ask themselves whether the money is enough for fruit, a trip to grandma’s or a school trip.” The coalition will continue to fight inflation. In addition, Schmidt was promoting “Money for the Social Climate,” a planned one-off payment per year that Heil announced for 2023. Schmidt called the increase in the minimum wage “an act of self-defense against the collapse of collective agreements.”
Further arguments from the Bundestag debate:
AfD MP Norbert Kleinwchter said that many foreign workers in Germany are promoting competition in the labor market and lowering wages. “A healthy market does not break the minimum wage, it has rules and limits.”
Social expert FDP Pascal Kober praised the raising of the limit of mini-jobs. Mini-staff would help when it comes to full shelves in the supermarket at any time of the day or serving in the evening in a restaurant. Along with the increase of the mini-work limit, it will also, to a small extent, counteract the shortage of qualified employees.
What employers say against the minimum wage increase:
The BDA employers’ union has already criticized the raise in advance. The BDA also threatened a possible lawsuit before the Federal Constitutional Court. “We are not interested in the minimum wage,” said Employers CEO Rainer Dulger of Welt (Friday). “The federal government is not sticking to the agreements we concluded in 2015, when the minimum wage commission was established with the introduction of the statutory minimum wage.” The association rejects the fact that the raise should now be passed once by the committee – and does not quite believe that it should remain a one-off step.
How unions evaluate the resolutions:
“We welcome this step by the legislator, as the minimum wage was too low when it was introduced,” said Stefan Krzell, DGB board member. The minimum wage was introduced by the then grand coalition in 2015 at the level of EUR 8.50. “The higher minimum wage is especially helpful for workers in the hospitality, restaurant, retail, and health and social services industries,” says Krzell. At the same time, his colleague from the board, Anja Piel, criticized the increase in the number of mini-jobs: “Especially for those who, during their careers, do almost exclusively mini-jobs, this is a path to poverty in old age.” / Bw / DP / aversion