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SPD Chief Says 'No' to Low Wage Jobs

Franz Müntefering, head of Germany's governing Social Democratic Party (SPD), definitively denied that he supports the creation of a low-wage job sector in Germany. "I do not want a low-wage sector," the SPD chief said following a party meeting in Berlin. "So we are basically in agreement with the unions." Müntefering claimed comments he made over the weekend were misinterpreted to mean that Germany should try to fill its own low-wage jobs rather than have them filled by workers from neighboring Eastern bloc countries, many of which will be joining the European Union on May 1. Union leaders say Germany can only become more competitive offering highly skilled workers jobs creating innovative, high-quality products. The chairman of the economics committee in the German parliament had come out in favor of government support for a low-wage sector. On Sunday, Müntefering had told German state radio that "if necessary, we must take part in the low-wage-sector debate" and that Germans have to be prepared to accept poorly paid jobs rather than having them filled by immigrants. "We may at some point have to discuss how we can make these jobs more interesting," Müntefering had said.