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German Parliament OKs National Minimum Wage

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AP Photo / Britta Pedersen

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is taking the step at the insistence of her coalition partners since last December, the center-left Social Democrats. Some employers will have two years to phase in the minimum wage, which takes effect Jan. 1.

Merkel's conservatives have gone along with the plan unenthusiastically; for decades, determining wages in Germany has been a matter almost entirely for unions and employers. Under-18s will be exempted, as will the long-term unemployed in the first six months after they return to work.

Lawmakers voted 535-5 with 61 abstentions in favor of the minimum wage on Thursday.