Nation & World

German Parliament OKs national minimum wage

BERLIN (AP) — The German Parliament has approved the introduction of the country's first national minimum wage, which will guarantee most workers in Europe's biggest economy at least 8.50 euros ($11.60) per hour starting next year.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is taking the step at the insistence of her coalition partners since last December, the center-left Social Democrats. Some employers will have two years to phase in the minimum wage, which takes effect Jan. 1.

Merkel's conservatives have gone along with the plan unenthusiastically; for decades, determining wages in Germany has been a matter almost entirely for unions and employers. Under-18s will be exempted, as will the long-term unemployed in the first six months after they return to work.

Lawmakers voted 535-5 with 61 abstentions in favor of the minimum wage on Thursday.

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