German finance minister advocates steep rise in minimum wage

During a trade with Africa meeting, with left to right, Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, German Finance Minister Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, take part in a meeting at the "Compact with Africa" conference on trade, aid and diplomacy, meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Tuesday Oct. 30, 2018. (John Macdougall/Pool via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s finance minister is advocating a steep increase in the country’s minimum wage as his struggling center-left party tries to reverse a slump in its popularity.

Germany has had a national minimum wage since 2015, when it was introduced at the insistence of the Social Democrats, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s junior coalition partners.

Its level is reviewed regularly: it started off at 8.50 euros ($9.65) per hour and rose to 8.84 euros in 2017. On Wednesday, the Cabinet was due to approve an increase to 9.19 euros in January, then 9.35 euros in 2020.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat who is also Merkel’s vice chancellor, wrote in a piece for mass-circulation daily Bild: “I think that a 12-euro minimum wage is appropriate. Companies should not save on pay.”

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