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New directive: Brussels wants to strengthen trade unions in Germany

New directive: Brussels wants to strengthen trade unions in Germany

The federal government will have to work to ensure that more employees are protected under collective agreements. This sets up a controversial EU directive on minimum wages and collective bargaining, which the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, the body of member states, will discuss on Tuesday evening. they agreed. “We are writing the social and political history of Europe,” said Denis Radtek, a CDU MP who is one of two negotiators in parliament, in Strasbourg.

In fact, the European level has few powers in social policy. This is what makes this EU law, which the Commission drafted in the fall of 2020, so special and contested. Next week, the ministers of social affairs of member states are scheduled to agree on a compromise reached meeting in Luxembourg agree.

Nevertheless, Danish Minister Peter Hommelgaard declared the resistance: “The government has resisted from the beginning, and we continue to reject it outright,” he wrote. on Twitter. The Swedish government made a similar statement. Scandinavians are highly critical of Brussels’ interference in wage policy. However, consensus is not required in the Cabinet, so the EU directive should remain in effect in the fall. Member states will then have two years to convert the regulations into national law.

The statutory law does not set a minimum wage level in the EU – which was clearly outside of Brussels’ jurisdiction. Those six member states that do not have a legal minimum wage need not provide any. This is for Austria, Italy, Cyprus, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. But for all other states, the directive sets a framework for how the minimum wage should be set.

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Labor Secretary Hill described the goals as ambitious

So this should happen at least every two years, unless lower limits are automatically linked to wage developments. In addition, governments must involve trade unions and employer associations, and there must be clear criteria for calculating the necessary increases. German minimum wage law meets these requirements and does not need to be changed. In any case, it was recently decided in Germany that the minimum wage should be raised to twelve euros an hour in October. The Federal Republic already has one of the richest minimum wages in the European Union; Only Luxembourg pays more.

The directive’s requirement to increase collective bargaining coverage in EU countries is highly controversial. This is the proportion of workers whose operations are covered by collective wage agreements. The EU Commission argues that collective agreements are a good way to ensure decent wages for low-income earners. Therefore, governments should strive for collective bargaining coverage of at least 70 percent, according to the Brussels Authority bill. The European Parliament even wanted to increase this value to 80 percent and was successful.

Governments of countries with lower coverage of collective bargaining should adopt action plans aimed at reaching this level. This applies to most EU countries: so far, only Austria, France, Belgium, Italy, Finland, Denmark and Sweden have achieved 80%. In Germany, the rate is less than 50%. Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Hill described the 80 percent target as ambitious on Tuesday. “But we have tools that make that possible – like a federal law on compliance with collective agreements, so that public contracts go to companies that pay collective wages,” the Social Democrat politician said on the sidelines of an event in Paris.

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German employers’ chief Rainer Dolger called on the federal government to vote against the directive at the ministerial meeting: “European standards for the adequacy of national minimum wages will continue to politicize wage fixing in a dangerous way.” But the red-green-yellow alliance agreement supports EU law.