Scholz announced that his coalition would pass the agreed collective bargaining law. It should prevent government contracts from being awarded to companies that work with wage dumping. “We need good wages,” said Scholz. “We need more collective agreements, not less.”

The Chancellor clearly criticized the Minimum Wage Commission’s decision that the minimum wage should rise from the current 12.00 euros to 12.41 euros next year and then to 12.82 euros in 2025. “I was just as unhappy as everyone here that the minimum wage commission proposed such increases,” Scholz told the trade unionists. “You have to evaluate it critically.”

The commission’s recommendation was not unanimous, but went against the votes of the union representatives on the commission, who would have wanted a larger increase. “The social partnership in this country would have required an amicable decision to be made,” said Scholz. “That’s the mistake that was made there.”

At the start of the congress, Verdi boss Frank Werneke called for higher taxes for the wealthy. In Germany, the gap between working people in poverty and privileges for inheritances and large fortunes is far too wide. Taxes “for the rich and crisis winners” must be raised, he said. “We need policies that eliminate social inequality.”

Scholz’s speech opened the sixth Verdi Federal Congress, for which around a thousand members gathered in Berlin. The event takes place every four years to set the political and social course for the union.