Ecuador’s Labor Ministry is in discussions with representatives of national labor unions and business organizations as it considers an increase in the minimum wage, or Basic Unified Salary (SBU), for 2019. Workers’ groups are suggesting increases of 12 percent to 19 percent.
Meanwhile, business and industry groups are recommending that the SBU remain at the current monthly rate of $386.
“We welcome the government’s invitation for dialogue regarding the SBU and hope that they are sincere in hearing our suggestions,” Richard Gómez, president of the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores of Guayas, told the ministry’s Labor Council on Wednesday. “Our workers still struggle to pay for the basic necessities and desperately need a higher wage.”
Business leaders claim the economy is stagnant and cannot afford a wage increase in 2019. “We support our employees but businesses in Ecuador continue to struggle due to a lack of growth,” says Xavier Sisa of Ecuador’s Chamber of Industries and Production. “The country already has one of the highest minimum wages in Latin America and I argue that it should remain unchanged until growth returns.”
He added: “Inflation over the past 12 month has been negative so workers have not lost any purchasing power.”
Labor Minister Raúl Ledesma says the Labor Council will consider all sides in making a decision. “Our interest is to benefit all Ecuadorians as we all work to reactivate the economy. There are many factors to consider,” he says. The council will meet again December 19 to announce its decision.
Ecuador’s minimum wage has almost doubled since 2008, when it was $200.