Minimum wages are so far below the official low-wage threshold in many European Union countries that many workers would struggle to make a living, according to a briefing paper published on Wednesday by the ETUC, an organization of European trade unions.
The ETUC said that the minimum wages in 10 EU countries “is at or below 50% of the national median wage – clearly making it difficult for those on the minimum wage to make a living from the money they earn.”
Minimum wages would have to increase by 62% in Spain, 28% in Germany, 25% in Greece and 22% in the UK just to reach a level below the low-wage threshold, set by the OECD at two-thirds of the national median wage, it said.
According to its data, in Greece in particular, minimum wages are at 48% of the national full-time median wage.
“Minimum wages are far too low,” warned Esther Lynch, ETUC confederal secretary. “The EU should set a target date for statutory minimum wages to reach at least 60% of the median wage, and then living wages. Obviously, this cannot be done overnight, but the target should be set across the EU, and member states should sit down with national trade unions and employers to discuss how to get there and when.”
“Increasing minimum wages to 60% of the median or average wage in each country would greatly reduce in-work poverty and drive economic growth,” she noted.