The German chancellor's party is exploring the idea of a minimum wage for workers, abandoning its previous opposition to such a policy, party members said Sunday.
Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats are debating a proposal for a minimum wage before a November congress, said Peter Altmaier, the party's chief parliamentary whip.
"It will be a good debate at the party congress and at the end will be a major step forward," Altmaier tweeted. "Evolution always works."
Unions and employers in Germany's leading industries have traditionally hammered out individual wage agreements.
Merkel's party has previously rejected the idea of a blanket minimum wage and rejection of such a policy is written into the coalition agreement signed by Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union and her pro-business coalition partners, the Free Democrats from 2009.
But pressure from within the party resulted in an agreement to propose legislation that would set a base wage for jobs that do not fall under an existing wage agreement.
"The CDU has previously believed that an industrywide agreement can be found," Karl-Josef Laumann, a CDU member who worked on the proposal, told WDR broadcaster on Sunday. "But where there is no such agreement, we can set a minimum wage."
Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung "it is no longer a question of whether we will have a minimum wage, but how we will agree to the right amount."
The proposal says the minimum wage could be based on the current lowest hourly pay for temporary workers -- euro6.89 ($9.76) per hour in the east and euro7.79 ($11.03) in the west.
Unions and the opposition, who have long called for Germany to adopt a minimum wage, welcomed the news.
"A minimum wage creates jobs," said Michael Sommer, head of the federal union lobby DGB, told ZDF broadcaster.
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