The German parliament has approved the introduction of the country’s first national minimum wage, which will guarantee most workers in Europe’s biggest economy at least e8.50 (R124) an hour starting next year. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is taking the step at the insistence of her coalition partners since December last year, the centre-left Social Democrats. Some employers will have two years to phase in the minimum wage, which takes effect on January 1 next year. Merkel’s conservatives have gone along with the plan without much enthusiasm. For decades, determining wages in Germany has been a matter almost entirely for unions and employers. – Sapa-AP