Yesterday’s round of negotiations between union and business leaders over the minimum wage for a single worker did not prove to be fruitful and the government ended up deciding to increase it unilaterally, from the current sum of AR $8,060 to AR $10,000. The increase will be implemented in three stages: it will go up to AR $8,860 in July, AR $9,500 in January 2018 and AR$ 10,000 in July of that year. Overall, it’s a 24 percent yearly increase, 3 points higher than the number the government is set on establishing for the rest of wage negotiations throughout the country this year.
The figure is much closer to the proposal coming from business leaders, compared to the figure from their union counterparts. The former offered to increase the minimum wage to AR $9,700 using the same system as the government, while the latter group demanded it not be less than AR $14,600: the equivalent of the basic basket of goods for a family with two children — which besides foods includes clothing and commuting costs, among other regular expenses — which is used to draw the poverty line.
It hasn’t been clarified what the minimum salary will be for a worker with two kids. However, the Labor Ministry led by Jorge Triaca informed the press after the meeting that the actual request from unions was of AR$14,060. The basic basket of foods, which only contemplates the aliments necessary to subsist and draws the destitution line, clocked in at almost AR $6,000, according to the Indec statistics agency.
However, the press is not ruling out the possibility that unions will call for a national strike in protest: “no measures have been discussed,” a union leader who partook in the meeting told La Nación. “There’s no margin to put pressure. The government has a serious fiscal problem and the business leaders weren’t going to sign anything that was above the nationwide wage negotiations,” another one said.
The only person who showed himself to be more prone to stage some sort of measure was CTA union’s Pablo Micheli: “we are discussing it, but there will be an answer. Our proposal to the other unions will be a national strike,” he warned.