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Denmark Debates a Lower Minimum Wage for Immigrants
The debate over integration is shrill in Denmark. The small country repeatedly makes international headlines on the issue. The current coalition government of conservatives and right-wing liberals has already introduced Europe's toughest immigration law. The far-right Danish People's Party constantly agitates against the nation's 450,000 immigrants. And in 2006, the crisis over the Muhammad cartoons spilled over from Denmark to the rest of the world.
At the same time, Denmark produces many new innovative ideas -- social workers who help Muslim women learn to ride bicycles, the first integration law in Europe, associations of liberal Muslims.
Now, in the middle of the summer holidays, a bitter new has broken out in Danish politics. Karsten Lauritzen, integration spokesman for the ruling right-liberal party Venstre, has proposed that immigrants be paid far less than Danes. His idea is that migrants should work for around 50 krone an hour (around €6.50 or $8.40) instead of the current minimum hourly wage of around 100 krone. There is no official legal minimum wage in Denmark, but pay is regulated by a series of wage agreements negotiated by labor unions.
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