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Entered By: Paula
Entry Date: 2009-02-10 20:04:10
Subject: Another Article regarding Minimum wage

This is from the newspaper, The Honduras Weekly Workers frustrated with the ramifications of the recent minimum wage increase took to the streets recently to make their voices heard. On January 15, hundreds of teachers, farmers, nurses and other workers marched through the streets of San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and La Ceiba to put pressure on the government and businesses of Honduras. They continue to wait for a response that will make them happy. Wendy Figueroa, a public school teacher in La Ceiba, was among the marchers. Figueroa said that she taught for five months but was only paid for two. She said other teachers have it even worse. She said that she and the other teachers involved in the march expect the government to pay them the money they’re owed. One can only imagine the impact this would have on Honduras’ already suffering public school system. “Many teachers haven’t been paid since last February or May. The government doesn’t want to pay. If the government doesn’t pay, teachers won’t work.” Wendy Figueroa However, teachers weren’t the only participants in the march. Everyone involved had the same complaint: If we can’t work we can’t pay our living expenses. We need to work…” Wendy Figueroa She said that the march had several goals in addition to wanting payment for teachers. She said that marchers hoped to put pressure on the government to reduce general costs of living including transportation and food costs as well as put pressure on the government and businesses to respect the new law and use it to better Honduras, not to make the country poorer. Juan Melendez, also a teacher in La Ceiba, said he thought the new minimum wage was a good thing. “Right now the salary is perfect,” Melendez said. “It used to be too little.” However, Melendez said that although the new law was intended to bring the country a little further out of poverty, it is only making life more difficult for people. Many march participants have lost their jobs as a result of the new wage. The new wage, which increased minimum salaries from 3,400 lempiras to 5,500 lempiras in urban areas and 4,055 lempiras in rural areas, went into effect January 1. Within the first week of January, 700 people were fired, according to the Ministry of Labor. While trade unions rejoiced at the news, businesses were outraged. Businesses complain that they can’t pay the new wage without firing workers. A December 24, 2008 article in ‘La Prensa’ said that the government increased the minimum wage after it failed to bring about an agreement between workers and business, as stipulated by the country’s labor laws. President Zelaya was quoted saying that the minimum wage increase “will force the business oligarchy to start paying what is fair.” Manuel Zelaya Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, with a poverty rate of 70 percent, according to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The 2009 Index of Economic Freedom lists Honduras is one of Central America’s poorest countries; two-thirds of its people live below the poverty line, and unemployment is about 28 percent.

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