Under the March agreement between workers and employers such as nursing homes and community care providers, caregivers in western parts of the country will receive at least €8.50 per hour while those in the former east, where living costs remain lower, will get at least €7.50 an hour.
But the Labour Ministry has confirmed that the Economy Ministry, led by pro-business Free Democrat (FDP) Brüderle, has issued a request to delay the deal until the end of 2011. His party, the junior coalition partners to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), has traditionally been opposed to minimum wages.
“The attempt by Mr. Brüderle to block the care providers' minimum wage is as scandalous as it is revealing,” Verdi board member Ellen Paschke told daily Berliner Zeitung. “While he refuses to take action against financial sharks and speculators, the people in the care industry should at least see the fruits of their labour.”
Meanwhile the Labour Ministry, led by the CDU's Ursula von der Leyen, is said to be advocating for the original agreement, which will cover about 800,000 nursing home staff and people who provide home-based care to the sick or elderly.
After six months of consultations, the care commission of the Labour Ministry agreed on the minimum wage in late March, based on a compromise between workers and employers, though this must still be approved by the cabinet.
Germany is expected to need tens of thousands of extra caregivers in coming years as the population ages.