Ten years of legal minimum wage: a plaything of political ambitions

Ten years ago, the then federal government introduced the legal minimum wage. CGM Federal Chairman Sebastian Scheder draws a mixed balance.

A decade ago, the then grand coalition government decided to introduce a legal minimum wage. From the beginning of 2015, this initially amounted to 8.50 euros.

The introduction was not without controversy at the time. The Christian Metalworkers’ Union (CGM) criticized in particular the associated dismantling of collective bargaining autonomy. Now, ten years later, the CGM’s Federal Chairman Sebastian Scheder has a mixed assessment.

Criticism of political interference

In general, the trade union chairman rates the legal minimum wage positively. “Its introduction reduced social inequalities, recognized the dignity of work and created a fairer and more productive working world.”

At the same time, however, the CGM Federal Chairman criticizes the more recent developments surrounding the setting of the legal minimum wage: “The government should slowly get out of the collective bargaining policy,” demands Scheder.

“The question has arisen right from the start: Is politics even allowed to interfere in collective bargaining autonomy to such an extent? The minimum wage commission was therefore a compromise. It was a compromise that was made with a sense of proportion and which brought quite decent results in several steps. However, with the decision of the Ampel-Koalition (coalition government of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and Alliance 90/The Greens) to intervene politically in setting the minimum wage, there has now been the political interference that we always feared. We have always warned against this situation. Now the door has been opened to politically motivated overbidding.”

Far-reaching decision

The introduction of the minimum wage also had a major impact on collective wage structures in Germany. The CGM Federal Chairman has a mixed assessment of these effects. “In some areas, there was positive impetus for the development of pay scales. In general, however, it is a challenge that wages for unskilled and skilled workers continue to converge. We have been calling on employers for some time to raise the wages of skilled workers to such an extent that the gap is maintained. This is necessary to send a signal to people: It pays to complete an apprenticeship or qualification. This development is exacerbated by the introduction of the Citizen’s Income, which raises the question for employees in the low-wage sector as to whether it is still worth pursuing a job at all. This creates false incentives that are detrimental to performance.”

Industry minimum wages as a more flexible alternative

The CGM Federal Chairman sees the nationwide introduction of collectively negotiated sector minimum wages as an alternative to the legal minimum wage. “Only collectively negotiated solutions are flexible enough to take into account the specific needs and challenges of the respective industry. Sectoral minimum wages negotiated by social partners offer the necessary flexibility and security at the same time.”

Source: https://cgm.de/news/10-jahre-gesetzlicher-mindestlohn/ (original German)

About WOW

WOW was founded as a Social Christian trade union and finds inspiration in the spiritual believe that man and universe were created by God or by persuasions coinciding with that. The increase of intercultural contacts provided opportunities for the WOW to expand and broaden its view with visions of other religious backgrounds. WOW does so in a joint attempt to build a world community based on freedom, dignity, justice and solidarity.

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