The best way to help Denmark’s unemployed immigrants? “If we want to get them out of the ghettos we will have to pay them less,” said Karsten Lauritzen, a member of the coalition-leading centre-right party Venstre and a spokesman for Danish prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen.
Unemployment is high among Denmark’s 450,000 immigrants. Supporters say businesses would be more likely to take chances on new employees, who may have shaky Danish, if they can pay them less than the 100 krone ($17.80) per hour starting wage. If Lauritzen gets his way, employers would be allowed to pay a starting wage of half that, 50 krone ($8.90) per hour.
(That’s higher than the current minimum wage in both British Columbia and Prince Edward Island.)
Support for the idea varies. Venstre’s labour minister is in favour of the idea, as is the Conservative party’s immigration spokesman, Naser Khader, an immigrant himself. The immigration minister, Venstre’s Birthe Hornbech, does not support the notion because it would unfairly stigmatize newcomers, she says. Far-left parties are vehemently opposed, as is the far-right Danish People’s Party (DPP). Any proposal that encourages employers to choose immigrants is discriminatory toward Danes, says the DPP.