Fabio Arias, secretary-general of Colombia's United Workers Trade Union Federation, said Wednesday that his organization will submit a formal complaint before the country's Council of State over a decree raising the minimum wage by only 7 percent.
A seven percent increase falls short of the country's official inflation rate of 7.26 percent in 2015, meaning the increase is actually represents a decrease in real wages.
According to Arias, Colombia's Constitutional Court has specified that salary increases cannot fall below the rate of inflation.
“We lost money last year and that was not taken into account, but now they again issue a decree with an increase that is below inflation,” exclaimed Arias.
The trade union leader said that they had warned the government during negotiations in December, 2015 that a seven percent increase would be “illegal.”
The seven percent increase was ultimately approved by decree after the representatives from the government, the workers, and business owners failed to find consensus. Workers had asked for a 12 percent increase instead.
Arias said workers, in addition to the formal complaint, were preparing protests over the insufficient increase and a tax reform that is set to charge sales tax on food, which would further negatively impact the incomes for working class Colombians. The United Workers Trade Union Federation, known as the CUT, is also seeking pension reform.
“The CUT is preparing a large social mobilization against the national government's regressive policies”
In a statement the CUT also said it would also being planning a national strike in collaboration with other workers' organizations and social movements.
“We want to have the government understand that, even though we do want peace, we do not understand how they are still attacking us with these decisions that affect the Colombian working class,” said Arias.
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