Steinmeier praises unions as indispensable

Steinmeier praises unions as indispensable

German president frank-walter steinmeier has praised the unions as indispensable for freedom and cohesion in society.

"You are doing a service to democracy," said steinmeier on sunday evening at the opening of the verdi federal congress in leipzig. When it comes to the major political issues of the day – from digitization to climate change – the involvement of trade unions is crucial. Verdi is "thoroughly political" and takes sides for a country based on solidarity. "This claim is unchanged important today. Openness, freedom, solidarity – that’s what our democracy thrives on," said steinmeier.

Social responsibility on the part of companies is also possible in the digital modern age, the german president warned. But for this responsibility to be accepted, strong interest groups are needed. "Verdi is needed, and the other unions no less so. That’s easy to predict."

Around 1,000 delegates are expected in leipzig for the verdi national congress. They will elect a new president of the service union. Frank bsirske (67) leaves after 18 years at the helm. The federal president thanked the long-term boss: "you have rendered outstanding services to germany. For this, you have the thanks of the entire country."Bsirske’s designated successor is former vice president frank werneke (52).

Before the start of the congress, bsirske once again spoke out vehemently in favor of the basic pension promised by the coalition government. "The basic pension is a very important step toward limiting the risk of poverty from low wages and counteracting it," bsirske told the deutsche presse-agentur in berlin.

The outgoing union boss also called for a higher minimum wage. "As far as the statutory minimum wage is concerned, it is absolutely appropriate to make a significant leap upwards – to 12 euros in 2020," he said. So far, the plan is for the minimum wage to become 1. January 2020 from the current 9.19 euros to 9.35 euros per hour.

Werneke, the designated head of verdi, criticized the federal government’s planned investments in the climate package as inadequate. "It is negligent not to spend additional money now in times of high upcoming investments for climate protection," he told the newspaper "augsburger allgemeine". He called for a departure from the policy of black zero.

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