Leaders of the Costa Rican Union of Private Sector Chambers and Associations (UCCAEP) on Monday evening presented the National Wages Council with their wage-hike proposal for the private sector. The proposal would change wages for the second half of the year.
Employers proposed a wage increase of 1.33 percent, a much smaller amount than the 4.12 percent requested by workers’ unions last week.
UCCAEP members at the hearing said their proposal is based on accumulated inflation during the second half 2013 and on estimated inflation forecasts for the second half of this year by Costa Rica’s Central Bank (BCCR).
As of May, accumulated inflation was 3.75 percent, according to the BCCR.
“We must be aware that the country’s production figures are not growing enough to approve higher salary adjustments,” economist and UCCAEP Director Luis Mesalles said.
But the secretary general of the National Association of Public and Private Employees, Albino Vargas, disagreed, saying that employers’ reasoning is “getting too old.”
The union leader said negotiations would be a major test for government officials: “If they accept the employers’ arguments, they would contradict recent statements by President Luis Guillermo Solís about fighting inequality in the country,” he said.
The proposals will be evaluated by Labor Ministry officials, and on Wednesday members from all three sectors will gather to negotiate an agreement on a final figure that would take effect next month.
Records from the Social Security System in April show that 1.3 million employees work in the private sector. But the wage increase is only mandatory for workers earning minimum wage, according to the country’s labor laws.