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German employers wary

November 19, 2013

The newly elected leader of Germany's employers' federation says current talks in Berlin to form a coalition government do not have the right focus. Ingo Kramer fears industry's interests are being given short shrift.

Ingo Kramer, new BDA president MICHAEL SOHN/AFP/Getty Images
Image: Michael Sohn/AFP/Getty Images

The new leader of Germany's BDA national employers federation, Ingo Kramer (pictured above), warned Tuesday that policy priorities emerging at talks on forming Germany's next government could easily endanger the country's competitiveness.

A day after taking over as leading spokesman for employers, Kramer told a BDA meeting in Berlin that current coalition talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats were not focusing on the right issues and could impose a "new corset"

"Further benefits for some pensioners, family issues and healthcare are being debated right now," Kramer said. "Add to this talk about a nationwide minimum wage and new labor market regulations plus higher public spending, but do we have the right to put at risk the competitiveness that was won back after hard years by putting companies into a new corset of constricting rules?," the BDA chief asked.

Serious misgivings

Kramer, who heads a third-generation engineering company in Bremerhaven, northern Germany, made it abundantly clear that he thought little of a minimum wage scheme across all sectors and industries.

Remaining Competitive with Low Wages

"Nobody should be under any illusion that a long-term unemployed person with no recent training will get access to employment in many ranches and regions for a state-prescribed hourly wage of as much as 8.50 euros [$11.5] per hour," he maintained.

Kramer took over the BDA's leadership from 75-year-old Dieter Hundt at a difficult time, with the prospect of a grand coalition in Berlin also raising the prospect of compromises that might harm entrepreneurial freedom in the country. Hundt had been the voice of German employers for 17 years, playing a decisive role in forming the nation's corporate image.

hg/ipj (Reuters, dpa)