The most important social project of the traffic light coalition is up for vote in the Bundestag this Friday. The sharp increase in the statutory minimum wage to twelve euros on October 1, 2022.
It is considered certain that the majority of parliamentarians will give the green light to the law introduced by Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD). Ultimately, the project was laid down in the coalition agreement between the SPD, the Greens and the FDP.
As the Federal Government has confirmed, this political intervention in wage policy is intended to be a one-off event. In the future, the responsible collective bargaining committee made up of trade unionists and employer representatives will again decide on the development of the statutory lower wage limit.
The minimum wage was introduced in 2015 at 8.50 euros per hour and since then has gradually increased to 9.82 euros. As stipulated by law, the collective bargaining commission based the regular adjustments on general wage developments.
With the current increase in the minimum wage, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is implementing one of his most important and popular campaign promises. Germany will then have the second highest wage floor in the EU after Luxembourg.
Around eight million employees in Germany will benefit directly from the increase because they have previously had lower hourly wages. According to the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS), it is mostly women and many people in East Germany. And wages, which are just above the new wage floor, are likely to rise for the most part and are already doing so in many places.
While the trade unions praise the intervention of the legislature, sharp criticism comes from the economy. Employer President Rainer Dulger accuses the federal government of breach of trust. “We are not concerned with the amount of the minimum wage,” said the head of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) to WELT. “The point is: The federal government is not sticking to the agreements that we made in 2015 when the minimum wage commission was founded with the introduction of the statutory minimum wage.” The legislator had expressly stipulated that the collective bargaining parties alone should decide on the further development of the minimum wage .
Now, however, the commission is being effectively undermined, criticized Dulger: “And it is likely that the minimum wage will again be an issue in the next federal election campaign – and thus become a pawn for political actors.” However, a state wage leads economically to a dead end.
Only a lawsuit by employers’ associations before the Federal Constitutional Court could bring the minimum wage increase to failure. “Two reports commissioned by the BDA have shown that the raising of the minimum wage by the legislature violates the Basic Law,” said Dulger.
However, Dulger left it open whether and when the association would like to file a lawsuit in Karlsruhe. Minister Heil says he is calm about the potential lawsuit. “You can order reports,” Heil said at a press event on Thursday when asked by WELT. “I’m assuming that everything will stand up in court.” The lawyers in the ministry worked very cleanly.
A short-term announcement by the CDU caused astonishment. The parliamentary group wants to abstain from voting in the Bundestag. In the run-up to the state elections in Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia, the party had signaled approval – its social wing even demanded more than twelve euros.
“The announced abstention of the CDU is a political disappointment,” commented Heil. In all likelihood, however, the Union votes will not be relevant to the voting result.
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