Minister of Labor Heil: We need more proper collective agreements
For Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD), the higher minimum wage of twelve euros planned for October 1st is only a first step towards more performance-based justice. “Above all, we need more proper collective agreements,” Heil told the “Passauer Neue Presse”. Only 48 percent of employees still work under a collective agreement, which usually ensures better working conditions and wages. The state must set a good example when it comes to adherence to collective bargaining agreements. “That’s why we will also ensure that in future public contracts from the federal government only go to companies that pay according to tariffs.”
Heil emphasized that from the middle of the year only facilities that paid their employees according to the tariff could settle accounts with the nursing care insurance. “It is important to me that we make a new attempt in the next four years to come to a generally binding collective agreement in geriatric care,” said Heil. Overall, the pandemic has made it clear that many people who keep this country running do not have easy working conditions – for example in care, logistics or at the supermarket checkout. “We need more performance justice and respect for those who work a lot but have so far been paid too little.”
In addition, Corona accelerated developments that fundamentally changed the labor market. For example, many more employees worked in the home office. “We will therefore create a new legal framework for this area,” emphasized the minister. With the new digital forms of work, the rights of employees must be respected. Even in the platform economy, employees would have the right to set up works councils. Heil confirmed that tougher action would be taken where this was suppressed. “Anyone who obstructs the work of works councils and their establishment will have to deal with the public prosecutor.” For this purpose, the criminal law will be tightened.
The statutory minimum wage in Germany is to rise to twelve euros on October 1st. A total of 6.2 million employees should benefit from this, according to the draft bill presented by the Federal Minister of Labor on Friday. The lower wage limit is currently €9.82 per hour. On July 1st there will be a regular increase to 10.45 euros. According to the draft, the increase in wages will mean higher wage costs for employers, estimated at around 1.63 billion euros in 2022. The prices of goods and services could increase moderately.
The head of the Food-Genuss-Gaststätten (NGG) union, Guido Zeitler, emphasized at the weekend that the increase in the minimum wage would not only benefit low earners in hotels, restaurants, bakeries or butcher shops, but also the economy: According to the Pestel Institute, it would nationwide purchasing power will increase by 10.8 billion euros per year and bring companies higher sales. Zeitler called the announcement by employers’ associations that they would take legal action against the statutory minimum wage of twelve euros, citing collective bargaining autonomy, as “hypocritical”. It is correct that Heil wants to increase the collective bargaining coverage in the next step.
The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hendrik Wüst (CDU), warned of more undeclared work as a result of the planned increase in the minimum wage. “I treat everyone to the twelve euros,” Wüst told the Berlin “Tagesspiegel” (Sunday). But this is about a sharp increase in the minimum wage by more than 20 percent. “The consequence must not be displacement into undeclared work,” emphasized Wüst. He thought it would be better if the minimum wage was determined by the social partners.
Employer President Rainer Dulger had criticized the government’s €12 plans as a “gross violation of collective bargaining autonomy” and announced that a lawsuit would be examined. (dpa/rs)