U-turn on minimum wage for foreign drivers

Germany temporarily hit the brakes Friday on applying its new minimum wage to foreign truck drivers transiting the country in a move welcomed by Poland, which vigorously opposed the system.

Labour Minister Andrea Nahles said after talks with her Polish counterpart in Berlin that the decision was taken "out of consideration for (Germany's) neighbours". 

The suspension will continue until European rules on the issue have been clarified, she told reporters.

Polish transport companies and the government in Warsaw raised objections after neighbouring Germany introduced a national minimum wage of €8.50 an hour on January 1, including for lorry drivers passing through the country even just for a few hours.

Germany is the only European country not to exclude transit workers from its new minimum wage which it has argued was needed to stave off wage dumping.

An association of Polish transporters last week slammed the German measure as "discriminatory and disproportionate" for requiring Polish-based firms to pay their drivers the German minimum wage for the period they are on the country's soil, or face a fine.

The Polish government had urged Berlin to change the system and complained to Brussels, where the European Commission last week opened a preliminary case to look into whether it complied with European law.

Polish trade unions however had written to Nahles to appeal to her to stand firm.

Polish Labour Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz called Berlin's suspension "a good decision" and urged Brussels to clarify the legal situation "as quickly as possible".

The suspension only applies for transit journeys and not to deliveries by foreign truckers in or from Germany.

SEE ALSO: Poland bridles at German minimum wage

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