Troubles ahead for Martinelli
The Organized Workers National Council CONATO had put forward those aspirations to President Martin Torrijos’ government, but in five ye...
The Organized Workers National Council CONATO had put forward those aspirations to President Martin Torrijos’ government, but in five years. nothing was resolved
Antonio Graell, a CONATO leader said that it was not going to be easy, mainly because the new government is linked to private sector representatives. However Graell said that only if the Martinelli’s administration is willing to talk and negotiate will a climate of peace be maintained.
The unions are also asking for the introduction of a cost of living index , that will guarantee an annual pay adjustment for workers
Another request is the non-modification of the Labor Code, a requirement that certain countries such as the United States has requested as a prerequisite for ratifying the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.
In the past the private sector has rejected a general pay rise and the index bill alleging that will harm business in the country.
The private sector believes that the Labor Code should be more flexible, but the unions insist that they will not let that happen.
Graell said that the wages in Panama are very low and entrepreneurs are fighting over a few pennies.
The minimum wage in Panama is $325 per month, one of the highest in the Central American region, but the price of the basic food basket is $272.
The Private Enterprise National Council CONEP president, Gaspar Garcia de Paredes said the the world tendency in these times of crisis is to defend the existing jobs and the consequence of an increase in salaries could be worker redundancies.
Garcia de Paredes said that although Panama has not felt the full force of the global economic crisis, it is a fact that the projected growth for the country in 2009 would reach only reach three percent.
The entrepreneurs are insisting that when the growth curve declines it needs to be pushed up, Increasing wages would not achieve that.
Statistics from the Comptroller General show 1.3 million employed people in the country of which 58.5 percent earn less than $400 a month.