German wage deal welcomed by France and Belgium

By Alan Osborn

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

The French government has welcomed an agreement between the German Food and Allied Workers Union (NGG) and the employers group ANG to introduce a minimum wage structure for the approximately 80,000 people employed in the German meat industry.

French farm minister Stephane le Foll said that, following the deal, he expected the German industry to return to "more balanced competition with its European partners".

Belgium has also complained formally to the European Commission that Germany was engaging in "unfair competition" by employing workers recruited by temp agencies in Romania, who were able to evade German health and work-related employment schemes.

Although Germany has had no minimum wage until now, Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged in December that the new left-right coalition would introduce an overall minimum wage of €8.50 per hour in 2015.

The NGG has called for this to include meat industry workers "posted" by Romanian agencies and this has been accepted, despite opposition from employers.

France had complained that its own livestock was being sent to Germany for slaughtering and Belgium had said some of its slaughterhouses were planning to set up operations in Germany because of the far lower labour costs available in that country.

Because the "posted" workers from Eastern European countries were held to be employed by Romanian organisations, they had not been liable for membership in compulsory health and social security and other schemes in Germany.

The NGG/ANG deal provides for a minimum wage of €7.75 an hour from 1 July this year, rising to €8 an hour from 1 December.

From October 2015, meat sector workers will see their minimum wage rates rise to €8.60 per hour and then to €8.75 per hour from December 2016 – above the national average.

The German meat workers union VDF (Verband der Fleischwirtschaft) has expressed satisfaction with the terms, as has the National Cattle and Meat Industries Association (INTERBEV), in France. A VDF spokesperson said the deal would be most felt in the Franco-German border regions.

Neither the National Beef Association nor the British Meat Processors’ Association wished to comment on the agreement’s impact on the UK sector.

Related topics: Meat

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