May Day 2008 – Venezuela raises minimum wages by 30%

3 May

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has raised worker’s minimum wages by 30% making it the highest in Latin America (Reuters News, 30 April 2008). Public sector employees will also see their wages increase by 30%. This is in addition to the benefits they received from food and housing. (Reuters News, 30 April 2008).

At a Labour Day rally in Caracas which sees an estimated participation of 30,000, Hugo Chavez has also said that union leaders should put aside their differences and work together for the common good of the workers. He also urged the union workers to be ‘autonomous in its decisions and its capacity to choose its leaders’ (Janicke 2008).

The Opposition union, Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV), staged a smaller demonstration opposing the wage increase as they argued that it would lead to inflation (Janicke 2008).

As the Western world, in particular, the American administration of George Bush, continues to portray Chavez as an autocrat, the Venezuelan government continues to defy expectations to allow citizens their right to freedom of expression. In addition, it has went ahead with its socialist expansion plans by re-nationalizing its largest steel plant, SIDOR which was previously owned by an Argentina – Italian joint venture (Janicke 2008). All these measures – allowing national resources to be in the hands of the state and hence, subject to pressure from the workers; and wage increase, can only be good for the workers. This is particularly important as the food crisis is expected to reduce the poorer people’s ability to spend on necessities.

Works Cited

1. Venezuela’s Chavez raises minimum wage by a third, Reuters News, 30 April 2008

2. Janicke, K 2008, Venezuelan Labor Day Rally Attracts Hundreds of Thousands, Wages Raised by 30%, Venezuela Analysis.com, 2 May, accessed 3 May 2008, <http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/3407 >

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