Brüderle backs big pay rises as economy booms

Brüderle backs big pay rises as economy booms
Photo: DPA
Workers hungry to share in the spoils of Germany's booming economy through higher wages have been given encouragement from a surprising place: the country's pro-business Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle.

“When the economy booms, stronger wage rises are possible,” Brüderle told Thursday’s edition of the Hamburger Abendblatt.

With Germany’s economy pulling clearly away from the recession of 2008 and 2009, unions and employees are set to pursue wage rises after years of restraint that have helped keep Germany’s export-driven economy highly competitive.

Brüderle, who is deputy chairman of the Free Democrats (FDP), a party that counts big business among its key constituents, gave his backing to workers seeking better pay from their bosses. He praised, for instance, the recent deal struck between 85,000 steel workers and their employers in the north-western states for a 3.6 percent pay increase.

“The agreement in the steel industry has shown that a fair balance is possible, which other industries could perhaps follow,” he said.

Economic growth had been “happily much stronger and much more sustained than it had appeared to be in the spring” when the government was forecasting 1.4 percent growth.

The government’s latest growth prediction figure consisted of “at least a two with a high number after the decimal point.”

“We are the economic locomotive for the whole of Europe,” said Brüderle.

He said there was a good chance that the number of people registered as jobless would drop below the politically significant figure of three million.

Already in southern Germany, the unemployment rate was below 5 percent – a figure that economists generally regard as full employment.

DAPD/The Local/dw

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