Venezuela raises minimum wage 30%
President Nicolas Maduro has raised Venezuela's minimum wage for the second time this year to help workers being battered by the world's highest inflation.
Speaking at a May Day rally, the socialist leader said he is boosting the minimum wage and pensions for retirees by 30 per cent, with two-thirds of the increase coming this month and the rest on July 1. He also said he would raise salaries for government employees and military personnel.
The wage increase, while a welcome relief for many workers, fell short of expectations that the embattled Maduro might use Friday's celebrations to expand state control of the slumping economy.
He promised more measures in the coming days that he said would wrest control of the economy from the "oligarchs" and "big wigs" who he accuses of trying to topple the government.
The pay increase follows a 15 per cent hike in January and will take Venezuela's minimum wage to 7,324 bolivars a month. That is about US$1,162 at the country's official exchange rate but less than US$30 at the black market rate widely used to set many prices.
Economists say the wage increases are only likely to feed the inflationary spiral. Inflation last year totalled 69 per cent, the highest in the world.