San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Private Sector Salaries To Increase 6.3%

GOVERNMENT officials, businessrepresentatives and unions agreedMonday to a 6.3% increase for minimumwages in the private sector starting inJanuary 2006.With the increase, minimum dailywages for bus drivers, carpenters andmasons will increase from ¢4,802 ($9.82) to¢5,104 ($10.44), the daily La Nación reported,while monthly minimum wages for secretariesand sale agents will increase from¢146,367 ($299.32) to ¢155,588 ($318.18).The increase will cover the cost ofinflation, plus a slight additionalincrease, according to Labor MinisterFernando Trejos.The minister said the government isonly obligated to give a 5.97% increase,because, although inflation is expected toreach 6.41% for the second semester, asalary increase granted in June for 7.3%exceeded the 6.86% actual inflation for thefirst semester. Therefore, the 6.3% increaseapproved this week, coupled with the earlier7.3% increase, will more than accountfor annual inflation by the end of the year,Trejos said during his increase proposal tothe National Salary Council (CNS).The council, made up of nine representativesof business chambers, workersand the government, approved theincrease unanimously.Approximately 1.4 million peoplework in the private sector, but theincrease is only obligatory for those whoearn minimum wage. This will be the lastprivate sector salary increase before theFebruary 2006 elections.Labor union representatives have saidthey want to change the formula by whichprivate salary increases are awarded, tobetter align them with the rising cost ofliving – including food, utility and gasolineprices – rather than inflation alone.

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