Bosses Question Minimum Wage

Honduran union leaders and government authorities questioned the decision of some representatives of the business sector to impugn the new minimum wage.

The Minister of Labor, Mayra Mejia, criticized the determination of members of the Honduran Council of Private Enterprise (COHEP) and considered that business executives should understand the cost of the basic food basket that is higher even than what had been considered during the government of Manuel Zelaya.

Before ratifying the state decree on December 24 of 2008 the minimum wage in Honduras was approximately 180 dollars (3,400 lempiras) and as a result of the decree it rose to 5,500 lempiras (about 292 dollars).

Despite the benefits this increase represents for the workers it is still below the total cost of the basic basket in this Central American nation that is equivalent to 6,200 lempiras (more than 328 dollars) according the El Heraldo newspaper.

The paper reported that about 60 businesses affiliated to COHEP announced that they would challenge as false the new minimum wage approved by the president.

According to a legal advisor to the association, Armando Urtecho, the directors of the group presented a demand to the Supreme Court of Justice but each entity requested rectification of the state decree that should be left to individual decisions.

The executive director of COHEP, Benjamin Bogran warned that by the end of the month at least 40,000 would be laid off, especially in the informal sector and intended to justify this action to the increased salary demands by the State.

For Bogran it would have been better to count on the possibility of agreeing to a percentage point increase with the workers as proposed last Tuesday to prevent massive layoffs.

As a result of the decree of the Zelaya administration, business persons cannot negotiate with workers who receive lower salaries than those established and by paying them less they face a violation of their rights.

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