1 MIN. DE LECTURA
SANTIAGO, June 23 (Reuters) - Chile's Congress approved on Thursday the government's proposal to gradually increase the monthly minimum wage by 26,000 pesos, nearly $39, to 276,000 pesos ($412) within 18 months.
With the Lower House of Congress' approval, the minimum wage hike proposal is ready to be signed into law.
The country's largest labor union, the Workers' United Center of Chile (CUT), had argued for a minimum wage hike of 40,000 pesos, but the government insisted that a bigger hike was unrealistic given the country's sluggish economy.
Investment in Chile's key mining sector has fallen sharply amid a deep rout in copper prices. Chile is the world's top copper producer.
"This is an important accomplishment. We'd like this to be more but we need to be responsible and that makes us be more careful ... we have to give a (wage) increase that makes sense considering the state of the economy," said Finance Minister Rodrigo Valdes.
$1 = 669.4700 Chilean pesos Reporting by Anthony Esposito & Antonio de la Jara; Editing by David Gregorio