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Brussels pushes for EU-wide minimum wage21st of May 2012
The European Commission has proposed introducing a minimum salary in countries like Germany where it does not exist yet, and raise wages where they are considered too low.
At the moment more than eight per cent of European workers live with salaries that keep them below the poverty threshold, EU figures show. "The risk of in-work poverty is high, particularly in countries with uneven earnings distribution and low minimum wages, among people with temporary contracts and in low work intensity and single parent households," reads the Commission communication.
So the EU commissioner in charge of social affairs, László Andor, is proposing to introduce minimum wages across Europe and to raise them where possible.
"Setting minimum wages help prevent a destructive race to the bottom in the cost of labour, and are an important factor in ensuring decent job quality," reads the draft communication.
Most EU countries have already introduced a minimum wage but these often vary significantly. In Romania it can be as low as one quarter of the average wage. In Ireland it is over half the normal wage, according to figures provided by the European Industrial Relations Observatory.
Germany, Italy, Austria and the Scandinavian states have no minimum wage at all. While Italy and Austria have a minimum salary through collectively agreed sector contracts, nearly one-third of workers in Germany have no right to a minimum salary.