Lithuania’s Labor Demands Minimum Wage Increase for Euro Entry

Lithuania’s ruling coalition Labor Party demanded a 51 percent increase in the minimum wage in exchange for its support of Social Democrat Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius’s goal of adopting the euro next year.

“If the ruling coalition wants the euro, the minimum wage will have to rise to 1,509 litai in 2015” from 1,000 litai ($395) now, Labor leader Loreta Grauziniene said today in an e-mailed statement in Vilnius, the Baltic state’s capital.

The demand may force Lithuania’s four-party ruling coalition to choose between economic and political stability. Raising the minimum wage by more than about 5 percent a year could prevent it meeting criteria for adopting the single currency, Finance Minister Rimantas Sadzius said this week, according to BNS news service.

Sadzius’s remarks are “totally unacceptable” since a pledge to raise the minimum wage a year ago from 850 litai and later to 1,509 litai was part of the coalition agreement signed after elections in late 2012, said Grauziniene, who’s also speaker of parliament.

Lithuania is seeking to become the 19th member of the euro area at the start of 2015, following Baltic neighbor Latvia, which adopted the European currency yesterday.

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