BOOST THE MINIMUM WAGE
Through creative activism a group of young activists contributed to concrete improvements for low-income families in El Salvador.
For many years El Salvador has had one of the lowest minimum wages in Latin America. In 2016 the minimum wage for agricultural workers was USD 118 and as low as USD 98 for some of the lowest paid workers. In comparison, USD 199.70 was set as the national limit for what a family needs in order to cover expenses for food only (DIGESTYC).
In 2016, when a group of participants at a campaign training at the Global Platform had to settle on a topic for their campaign, they decided to focus on the unfair minimum wages. They knew that in two months a national Minimum Wage Council would be discussing possibilities for allowing a national wage increase. The young participants coming from both El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, had great ambitions, a very clear campaign goal and a huge opportunity for young people to be heard, but they were also under a lot of pressure trying to organise an effective national youth-driven campaign in time.
With a combination of public actions, coverage in national television, radio, funny and sarcastic videos and a meme-based social media strategy, the campaign ended up attracting the attention of a lot of young people who otherwise seemed rather apathetic about the issue.
Alliances with more than 15 organisations nationwide expanded the reach of the campaign and resulted in greater national exposure.
The campaigners held different demonstrations and public actions against the National Enterprises Organisation, which had carried and maintained most of the unfair minimum wages in the country.
After the training ended in May 2016, the participants and all the allied organisations continued to work on the campaign for the rest of the year. In this connection they had to deal with a counter-campaign characterised by misinformation and defamation of their movement.
As part of gaining important public attention and support for the Minimum Wage Campaign, the young activists created this nice little music video:
- In December 2016 El Salvador’s Minimum Wage Council approved the largest minimum wage increase in the history of the country, raising the minimum wage of apparel sector workers by around 29 percent and the minimum wage of the country’s lowest paid workers by 102 percent. Following this victory, the campaign has become a point of reference demonstrating the impact a campaign designed and executed by young people can have.
- The new minimum wages in El Salvador – as of January 1, 2017 – are: Agriculture from USD 118.10 to USD 200. Commerce and services from USD 251 to USD 300. Industry from USD 246.60 to USD 300. Sweatshops/clothing manufacturers from USD 210.99 to USD 295.