Ecuador’s largest labor union claims loss of income, demands 25% minimum wage increase

Dec 17, 2019 | 16 comments

The Unitary Workers Front (FUT) said Tuesday that it is willing to take to the streets if the government doesn’t hike the minimum wage by at least 25 percent. “We have lost 50 percent of the purchasing power of our wages in the last seven years,” says union boss Messiah Tatamuez. “It is time we begin rebuilding the rights of the workers.”

FUT union leader Messiah Tatamuez makes his demand for a higher minimum wage Tuesday morning. (El Comercio)

The National Labor and Wages Council began holding meetings in early December to determine the 2020 minimum wage. The 2019 minimum wage, $394 per month, is expected to increase by less than five percent, according to economists who predict inflation will be less than three percent for the year.

“Who is this council to decide what is best for Ecuador’s workers?” Tatamuez asked. “We have not been part of the discussion and we do not recognize the legitimacy of their work. We are more than happy to take our case to public, through protest, if it is necessary.”

Tatamuez argues that the current minimum wage is not enough to keep workers out of poverty. “The government’s own basic basket of necessities costs $729.89, which leaves a monthly deficit of $395.98. It is time we begin to reduce this gap.” He added: “We believe that the current minimum is a constitutional violation as well as a violation of human rights since it does not meet the basic basket requirement. It makes a mockery of Ecuador’s laborers.”

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