The introduction by the German government of a minimum wage of €9.80 an hour for all postal workers has been ruled illegal by a Berlin court, marking a victory for foreign operators wishing to enter the country’s recently opened postal market.
“The application of the minimum wage to the entire postal sector does not conform with the law,” the Berlin Administrative Court stated on 7 March, arguing that the imposition of a €9.80 hourly rate violated the basic rights of the plaintiffs, Dutch and German postal services companies TNT and PIN.
The introduction of the new salary threshold had been driven by the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the junior party in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition.
The SPD has been campaigning in favour of a nationwide minimum wage ahead of general elections in September 2009 in a bid to set it apart from Merkel’s Christian Democrat party (CDU), which fears a statutory minimum wage could drive jobs out of Germany.
The introduction of sectoral minimum wages, such as that in the postal sector, had been accepted as a compromise, but the Court’s decision could force the government to review its decision.