Working class sections in Germany, along with trade unions, social movements, and left-wing political parties, have raised objections to the insufficient raise proposed by the Minimum Wage Commission. On Wednesday, August 9, the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) accused the Commission of not doing justice, even at a time of soaring inflation. It said that employers want to save money at the expense of those who are financially the weakest in the labor market.
In June, the Commission, which comprises representatives of employers, trade unions, academics, and others, recommended raising the statutory minimum wage in the country from 12 euros (USD 13.23) per hour to 12.41 euros (USD 13.68) for 2024 and 12.82 euros (USD 14.13) for 2025. Trade union representatives in the commission deemed the hike inadequate and stated that it would lead to a fall in real wages in the backdrop of ongoing inflation.
Germany and other countries across Europe have been undergoing a period of crisis marked by de-growth, high inflation, an energy crisis, skyrocketing food prices and high rents. Even though the rate of inflation, which stood at +6.2% in July, has fallen slightly compared to the peak last year, food (+11%) and energy (+5.7%) prices continue to remain high, affecting the working class and low-income households in the country.
Trade unions in Germany have already organized multiple protests against the ongoing cost of living crisis and to demand a hike in wages to combat inflation. However, the ‘traffic light’ coalition government in the county led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz has yet to respond with concrete measures. Meanwhile, as it continues to finance and assist the war in Ukraine, peace groups in Germany have been carrying out protests against war-mongering and the Germany-led militarization of the region.
According to Stefan Körzell, German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) board member and a member of the Minimum Wage Commission, “There was no way we could reach out for an adjustment only in the cent range. With this decision, almost six million minimum wage workers will suffer a huge loss of real wages. The Minimum Wage Commission is thus not fulfilling its task of ensuring the minimum protection required by law for employees.”
“In order to achieve this minimum protection and compensate for inflation, the minimum wage would have had to rise to at least 13.50 euros (US$ 14.88). The employers and the chairman of the commission have refused to do so,” he said.
Amira Mohamed Ali, member of the legislature from Die Linke, stated last week that “The minimum wage should now be raised to 14 euros (US$ 15.43) and adjusted annually. The decided minimum wage increase to 12.41 euros (US$ 13.68) is not even enough to offset the inflation. That means the wages are really going down.”