Minimum wage increases decreed by Government

NSCAG News | on: Thursday, 5 March 2015

For the second year in a row, representatives of the government, business, and trade unions were unable to reach consensus on this year’s minimum monthly wage increase for ten sectors of the economy. The only agreement reached was to increase the minimum wage for workers in the small business sector by 9.8%. For the other sectors, the government had to establish the increase by decree. The unions proposed an increase of 20% for the agriculture sector and increases of between 12% and 14% for the other sectors, while business insisted on raises of no more than 9.5%. Wages for workers in the free trade zones are negotiated separately. The Government decree was made after the employers had walked away from the negotiating table.

At a press conference, Labour Minister Alba Luz Torres announced the raises for the different sectors of the economy. Salaries in the agriculture sector will rise by 11.48% and in other sectors by 10.98%. The increases will take place in two stages with the first taking effect from March 1, and the second on September 1st. On 1st September, the minimum monthly wage for agriculture workers will rise to US$120 per month (plus food); for manufacturing workers US$162; workers in the fisheries industry US$183; workers in the mining industry US$216; small handicraft and tourism industries US$130; electricity, water and transportation US$220; construction US$270; central
government US$150; and community, social, and domestic services US$168.

The leaders of the private sector body COSEP have said that the increases will benefit workers in the formal sectors of the economy but will have a negative impact on workers in the informal economy who will have to pay higher prices for the goods they buy. The COSEP communique also noted that employers this year must pay another percentage point into social security for
workers while the payment from workers was not increased. The trade unions have welcomed the agreement, which they say is based on the economy and inflation and signifies an increase of 11% overall.

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