The Arenal Area Magazine

Government begins campaign to enforce minimum wages

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Casa Presidencial photo Ms. Chinchilla displays a T-shirt bearing the number workers could call to complain about salaries that are less than the minimum.

The labor ministry is beginning a publicity campaign to inform workers that they should be paid the minimum wage. President Laura Chinchilla attended the kickoff Monday.

Sandra Piszk is the minister of Trabajo y Seguridad Social. Her office estimates that some 300,000 workers are not getting the minimum wage here.

Costa Rica has a complex minimum wage structure with each occupational category having its own minimum wage from a couple a hundred dollars a month to a thousand, depending on the job. There also are hourly minimums for individuals who do not work on a monthly contract. And coffee pickers have a minimum salary based on the number of baskets of berries they collect.

Ms. Piszk said that inspectors would make workplace visits. These would be generated by calls to the ministry or to a special number, 800-trabajo, that has been set up for the campaign. There will be publicity to alert workers to the campaign.

The employers face the possibility of penalties if they do not bring their workers up to the minimum.

Ms. Chinchilla said that the campaign was part of her administration’s effort to improve conditions for the most vulnerable population. She said that this campaign for minimum wage is the beginning of an integrated campaign to address education, economic and social aspects of what she said was a complex problem.

Many workers do not inform on their employer for fear of losing their job. Labor officials said they were resigned to some job loss as a result of the campaign.

The campaign is being backed by the Fundación para la Paz y la Democracia


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