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Union leader, Merkel at odds over financial transaction tax

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Union leader, Merkel at odds over financial transaction tax
Photo: DPA
16:03 CEST+02:00
Germany's top union boss called on Chancellor Merkel Sunday to “stop the gamblers” and enact a tax on financial transactions to stave off rampant speculation.

Speaking at the opening of the conference for the Confederation of German Trade Unions, the umbrella group representing eight top unions and about 7 million workers, chairman Michael Sommer said the country's “patience for greed and avarice is at an end.”

Sommer predicted that speculators betting on Greece's debt would eventually target other countries with ballooning deficits, like Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy – and ultimately turn toward Germany.

During her speech at Sunday's conference, Chancellor Merkel rejected the notion of a tax on financial transactions, saying it would affect businesses. She also defended the bank levy system, which would see banks pay into a fund earmarked for future crises.

“The bank levies are appropriate, but they shouldn't be the only mechanism,” Merkel said.

Sommer said such requirements were “not a reasonable alternative.” He also criticized financial institutions for continuing to speculate, despite having received billions in government bailout funds.

“That the financial sharks show their gratitude by gambling against entire countries, endangering the euro … is a disgrace,” he said.

Wolfgang Kubicki, leader of the pro-business Free Democrats party group in Schleswig-Holstein's state parliament, also voiced his support for a tax on financial transactions – a departure from the FDP's party line – in an interview with Welt Online posted Sunday.

“I'm also a supporter of a temporary financial transaction tax,” Kubicki said, adding that tax burden should be reduced for smaller and mid-range earnings.

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