The number of poorly paid Germans is increasing, with approximately eight million (23 percent) Germans earning less than €9.15 an hour. This is an increase of 2.3 million compared to 1995.
Germany’s image of Europe’s last bastion of high wages is in tatters. A recently published study found that as many as 4.1 million Germans earned less than €7 an hour and 2.5 million less than €6 per hour. Another 1.4 million people did not even earn €5 an hour.
Nearly 800,000 people have to live on less than €1,000 a month. Who said that Germany was a rich state?
There is also a difference between the former East and West Germany. Low income workers earned an average of €6.68 an hour in the former West Germany and €6.52 in the former East Germany.
People in €400 “mini-jobs,” which are supported by government benefits, are the most likely to earn less than €9.15 an hour.
“Other groups with a large proportion of low-income workers are under-25s, people with limited contracts, immigrants, and people without a job qualification,” the report said.
Despite this last category, the majority of the eight million people on low incomes have completed job training.
The study, which was based on data from 12,000 households, is likely to reignite the country’s ongoing debate on a single minimum wage.
The Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green Party are in favour of a national minimum wage, while business associations say that it would destroy many jobs.
Germany has no standard minimum wage, but collective bargaining agreements between employers and trade unions mean that minimum wages have been agreed in certain sectors, though these are often confined to certain states.
Mimimum wages in Europe vary enormously.
The highest minimum monthly wages are found in Luxemburg (€1,801.49) and the lowest in Bulgaria (€138.05). The next group of countries consist of Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Their minimum wages hover around the €1,400 mark. The UK follows with €1,200.
Then there’s a big gap with Greece following at €876.62 per month and Slovenia, Spain and Malta around €700. Portugal sits at €565 per month and then there’s a cluster of countries with very low minimum wages ranging between €200 and €400 per month consisting of Croatia, Turkey, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and on the bottom spot Bulgaria.