Wage Increase Controversy

Honduras’ leftist president has raised the minimum wage in urban areas by about 60 percent, but businesses say they cannot afford to pay it.

President Manuel Zelaya set the new rate after talks broke down with business leaders. The increase in monthly wages from $181 to $289 went into effect this month.

Amilcar Bulnes is president of the country’s Private Business Chamber. He says that businesses do not have the resources to cover the added costs.

Bulnes said Tuesday the hike has already led to 15,000 layoffs.

The president also raised the minimum wage in rural areas by 18 percent.

Previously, the wage has not gone up by more than 10 percent.

Zelaya has not said what will happen if businesses don’t comply.

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