German lawmakers forego pay raise in coronavirus crisis

BERLIN (AP) — German lawmakers voted on Thursday to forego an annual pay raise as millions of people in Europe’s biggest economy face financial uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers voted unanimously to suspend for this year a system under which their pay is adjusted annually in line with nationwide wage developments. This year, that would have meant a 2.6% raise in July.

At present, the 709 lawmakers in the German parliament’s lower house get 10,083.47 euros ($10,903) a month before income tax.

Michael Grosse-Broemer, the chief whip of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union bloc, said that a raise would have come at one of the most difficult moments in post-World War II German history, when millions are in short-time work and self-employed people are worrying about their future — “in short, at completely the wrong time.”

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Some 2.64 million people were registered as jobless in Germany last month, an increase of 308,000 over the previous month for an unemployment rate of 5.8%.

That increase was comparatively moderate by international standards because employers are making extensive use of a government-backed short-time work program that allows them to keep employees on the payroll while they await better times. The federal labor agency pays at least 60% of the salary of employees who are on reduced or zero hours.

More than 10.1 million people were registered for that program by the end of April. Germany has a population of 83 million.

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