German chancellor calls for €15 per hour minimum wage

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German chancellor calls for €15 per hour minimum wage
Euro notes and coins lie on a table. The debate over the national minimum wage is heating up in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

As the debate about the national minimum wage heats up, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz has aired support for a gradual increase to €15 per hour.


Speaking to German media outlet Stern on Tuesday, Olaf Scholz, of the Social Democrats (SPD), said he would support an initial hike in the minimum wage to €14 per hour, followed by an increase to €15 per hour for the lowest earners.

The SPD politician also slammed the recent decision of the minimum wage commission to raise the current floor by just €0.41 cents per year this year and next - a move he described as a "mini adjustment".

At the last round of talks last year to determine the German minimum wage, the commission had decided on an initial increase from €12 per hour to €12.41 at the start of 2024 to €12.82 from 2025. Previously, the government had raised it from €10.45 per hour to €12 per hour in October 2022. 

However, this time around the commission's decision was not unanimous, with representatives of workers and trade unions claiming to have been outvoted by the employers on the panel. 

"After the increase to €12 at the beginning of this legislative period, some members of the Minimum Wage Commission, which is supposed to carry out the annual increases, unfortunately broke with the social partnership tradition of deciding by mutual agreement," said Scholz.

"The employers only insisted on a mini-adjustment. That was a major break with convention."

READ ALSO: How millions of workers in Germany are earning less than €14 per hour

Scholz' comments follow a number of statements by SPD politicians in favour of a further hike in the minimum wage in recent weeks.

Previously Saskia Esken, the co-leader of the party, had called for a reform of the Minimum Wage Commisison and a "significant increase" that would enable workers to escape poverty. 


Representatives from the Greens, Left Party, and the Verdi union have also advocated for a €15 minimum wage. Green politician Katrin Göring-Eckardt recently stated that a statutory minimum wage of €14 this year and €15 next year was necessary in light of the soaring cost of living in Germany. 

The debate over the minimum wage has also been fuelled by new statistics revealing that 8.4 million people - equivalent to roughly 10 percent of the population - currently earn less than €14 per hour. 

The minimum wage is typically determined by a commission consisting of representatives of both workers and employers.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaking in the German Bundestag. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

READ ALSO: Five things to know about salaries in Germany

However, in 2022, the government stepped in to mandate a €12 per hour minimum wage, fulfilling one of the SPD's key election pledges. 

"With this, we have created the biggest salary improvement for low-wage workers in years," Scholz told Stern, adding that warnings about job losses had failed to come to fruition.

If the SPD does step in to mandate another wage increase, it is likely to face fierce opposition from both employers and its pro-business coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP).


Last December, Rainer Dulger, the president of the employers' association, accused the centre-left party of preparing yet another politicial intervention into the national minimum wage. 

This would not only break the SPD's promise that the €12 hike was a one-off, but also interfere with the autonomy of the commission, Dulger said. 

FDP politicians have also warned the SPD to avoid stepping in once again. 


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