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The ritual of negotiating the minimum wage is approaching. That which is only earned by a little less than 2 million workers and that in the mid-1990s, there were 4.5 million.
But today, about 11 million workers, most of them informal, are unable to obtain it in the midst of the most incessant search.
This year, said discussion for an eventual negotiation will be framed by the tax reform that maintained the privileges to companies and the high plutocracy; a dire situation in terms of employment, where the government gets sickly talking about the great economic growth of GDP, which has not yet reached that of 2019, but which does not manage to generate the level of employment that an economic reactivation would presumably unleash and the one that is growing the most is the informal.
Another element of the context is that the pandemic increased inequality and poverty rates fell to 10 years ago. The bankruptcy of more than 600,000 MSMEs accounts for the loss of that business fabric so difficult to maintain and now more difficult to rebuild.
And to this context will be added the very high inflation due to the importation of goods and services with expensive dollars and deficiencies in the global supply chain. Which as usual hits the lowest income hardest.
And that labor productivity, businessmen and the government will say like last year, will be negative.
Another very negative context is the position that, with its back to the social outbreak, the government of Iván Duque has been maintaining by refusing to negotiate an emergency statement and now the government coalition in the Congress of the Republic, sinking the bills it presented the National Unemployment Committee.
And what is also the preamble to the 2022 electoral process, characterized by the very high concerns of the neoliberal establishment and Uribism for the possible loss of their majorities in Congress and the presidency of the Republic, for which they do not even hide from going to a electoral fraud to exorcise an eventuality like that.
And there will be other details.
But at the negotiating table, made up of the government, businessmen and workers, this year, there are two elements of significant importance.
One, the Nobel Prize in Economics of this year 2021 awarded among others to David Card who since the beginning of 1994, was the center of attention, along with Alan B. Krueger, for his research that concluded that contrary to widely accepted thinking among economists, the increase in the minimum wage had not translated into a reduction in jobs
Research concludes that contrary to accepted thinking among economists, the increase in the minimum wage had not translated into a reduction in jobs
This recognition of this work by Card and Krueger, demolishes the favorite song of businessmen and the government, which they have had in the Concertation Commission in the last 30 years. Therefore, they must not only accept their mistakes, but especially, repair with a significant increase by 2022 in the minimum wage, the damage caused to the purchasing power of said wage. They are 30 years of debt for a false statement.
Workers have been right when they have always argued, based on their experience and empirical data, that raising minimum wages generously contributed to improving the economy by increasing demand for goods and services and consequently employment.
This should be reflected in the real and significant increase in the minimum wage. The other would be a counter-evidence.
And the other important element for the negotiation is the statement of Pope Francis at the world meeting of social and communal leaders gathered in the Vatican in mid-October, where, warning of the serious consequences of the neoliberal model and the crisis of the pandemic, which has increased inequality and poverty, calls for rectifying part of that situation, proposing a universal salary (universal basic income is called by others) and the reduction of the working day. Both proposals are in the direction of generating income and full employment.
These two elements should modify the failed ritual of these annual negotiations.
Will the stubbornness of the government and businessmen prevail in theories already revalued by Nobel laureates in economics?
Will the government maintain its criterion of not dialoguing or negotiating with the workers?
Will the government and businessmen ignore the wise proposals of Pope Francis?
It will dawn and we will see.
Postscript: And new mobilizations are announced. November 18 and 19 national strike in health. November 25, the CNP summons the streets again, for the day of non-violence against women, commemorating 5 years of the peace agreement and 2 years of the beginning of the social outbreak of 21N.
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Minimum salary: between the nobel economy and Pope Francis