Competitiveness with High Wages - Labor and Business Cooperation Practices in Germany

The discussion was co-hosted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) and the Peterson G. Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE).

Michael Sommer is highly respected by German unions, businesses and representatives from all political parties. He is a strong advocate of the German system of co-determination and argues that union representation and high wages in key industries are not inconsistent with global competitiveness. He has also been a strong advocate for a minimum wage in Germany for years, and the new German government has recently agreed to introduce a minimum wage of 8.50 Euros (circa $11.50) that is scheduled to be the binding floor for all industries by 2017. Mr. Sommer provided remarks with a special focus on labor and business cooperation practices in Germany and what to expect from the introduction of the new minimum wage.

Michael Sommer, President of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) and President of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

Jacob F. Kirkegaard, Senior Fellow, PIIE (Moderator)

Short Bio of Michael Sommer:
Michael Sommer has served as President of Germany’s Trade Union Confederation (DGB) since 2002 and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) since 2010. He played a leading role in the founding of ver.di, the largest German trade union in the service industries. Michael Sommer is member of the Governing Body of the International Labor Organization (ILO), a member of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), Deputy Chairman of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) and a Supervisory Board Member of Deutsche Telekom.


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