Heiner Flassbeck, Friederike Spiecker: Searching for the scapegoat – wages in the ECB’s focus

If the German Federal Statistical Office hadn’t officially announced it last Friday, you wouldn’t have believed it. In Germany, the part of collective wage agreements that leads to a permanent collective wage increase actually amounted to only 2.4 per cent last year. This affects around 43 per cent of all employees whose employment contracts are subject to collective bargaining.

If the special payments made by companies to compensate for inflation are added, the total increase in collectively agreed wages is 3.7 per cent. However, only the 2.4 per cent represents the wage level which collectively agreed wage increases will be based on in future. The special payments – just like the extraordinary price increases – were a temporary phenomenon.

In retrospect, the collectively agreed wage increases with and without special payments turn out to be very moderate when compared with the media hoopla about allegedly almost double-digit growth rates that was created by trade unions and their declared opponents around the wage negotiations. The average for all employees together is much more modest than the result for the lower wage groups, whose protection against the rise in energy and food prices was the primary concern in the last negotiation rounds of wage agreements.

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