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Super Value Chief: $200 Minimum Wage Acceptable

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

and NATARIO MCKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

Super Value’s owner yesterday said he could accept a 33 per cent increase in the weekly minimum wage to $200, agreeing that “nobody can live” on the existing $150 per week.

Rupert Roberts told Tribune Business that the supermarket chain was currently “way above” the existing private sector wage floor, and it would increase its entry-level salaries should the Government ultimately raise it.

Explaining that Super Value used it as a threshold upon which to base payments to entry-level teen workers, Mr Roberts told Tribune Business: “We’re way above the Government’s minimum wage. That [an increase[ wouldn’t bother us.

“If they went to $200 [per week], we’d go to $210 for training, and then after six months’ [probation] to $220. After probation and training, our minimum would be $5.50” per hour for a 40-day week.

Mr Roberts backed the Government’s intent to increase the minimum wage for Bahamians at the bottom of the jobs market, effectively agreeing that the current $150 per week did not provide enough income for sustainable living given the numerous price increases since it was introduced in 2001.

“The Government’s right; nobody can live on that,” Mr Roberts told Tribune Business of the existing minimum wage. “I don’t know if the business community would rather have no net.

“There has to be a starting point, and we use that as a starting point. I can’t see the business community being against that [a $200 weekly minimum wage]. I wouldn’t know why. I don’t think the private sector will have a problem with $200.”

The Super Value chairman’s comments contrast with those of Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) chairman, Robert Myers, the head of its employment and labour division, Peter Goudie.

They yesterday branded the Government’s minimum wage increase plan as “dangerous” and “ludicrous”, warning that it threatened to increase unemployment among those it most sought to help, and would further impair the Bahamas’ economic competitiveness when the private sector was being hit by cost increases from all sides.

Mr Roberts, meanwhile, said the Government “sets the pace” on the minimum wage, with the floor for public servants set at $210 per week.

He suggested the Government was unlikely to come out with a private sector minimum wage above $200 per week, adding that it would be “too big a jump”.

Increasing the private sector minimum wage too much, and narrowing the gap with its public sector equivalent, will likely fuel civil servant demands for a similar rise - putting further pressure on the fiscal situation at a time when the Government can least afford it.

Meanwhile, the Bahamas Public Service Union’s (BPSU) president, John Pinder, yesterday called for public sector minimum wage increase that at least matched the 7.5 per cent Value-Added Tax (VAT) rate.

He argued that the sector was effectively “keeping the country afloat” with more than 70 per cent of civil service salaries going to deductions.

“The Government has to look at increasing the minimum wage in order to keep people above the poverty line,” Mr Pinder said.

“I have been advocating for an increase in the minimum wage for the public service and the country in general. When you really look at it, the civil service is keeping this country afloat. More than 70 per cent of their salaries is going back into the economy through salary deductions.”

Mr Pinder’s union purports to look after the interest of just under 5,000 members employed in the various government ministries, Boards and Corporations.

“Right now, the minimum wage in the civil service is far below what it should be. In many cases it doesn’t compensate for the jobs that these people have to do, for instance the street sweepers, the janitors and the people at Environmental Health,” Mr Pinder said.

“They work very hard and they are being exposed to all sorts of things. They should be compensated appropriately. We had a compensation study carried out back in 2007 and several recommendations came out of that, but the Government didn’t take any steps to increase the minimum wage to ensure that persons are properly paid.

“I think it is very important for the Government to be looking at this issue. Right now the minimum wage in the civil service is $210 per week. It should at least be $250 - $1,000 a month. The minimum a person in the civil service would get per annum is $10,700; it should be at least $11,500 and no less than $12,000 per annum.”

Comments

SP 7 years, 11 months ago

Robert Myers and Peter Goudie are perfect examples of money hogs!

Myers Caribbean Landscape company routinely rape, rob and plunder their upscale clientele and get away with it simply because of the color of their skin.

Who the hell can live here on $250.00 per week? People like Robert Myers "create criminals".

Robert Myers piss's away $250.00 on dinner several times a week and a whole lot more for his weekend Rose Island & Exuma Cays boating trips with the boys dem.

How the hell does he expect an individual to pay all his expenses, support his family, school fees, buy food, etc???

"Robbie" has a bad case of " Me Massa" mentality while the black slaves are supposed to keep grinning, be motivated, arrive on time, and do all the grunt work that supports Myers high flying lifestyle.

Robert...You has no heart.......I am ashamed of you......Just another money hog!

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ashley14 4 years, 9 months ago

And some wonder why there is so much crime. Homeless and hungry will drive even the best people to do things they might other wise not do. Two hundred dollars per week, when a gallon of milk is 6.00. I'm ashamed of you.

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baldbeardedbahamian 4 years, 9 months ago

SP is a racist spewing racist comments. there is no room for bitter old men like him in a modern ethnically harmonious Bahamas.

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baldbeardedbahamian 4 years, 9 months ago

I have had an idea, I don't get many of them, why don't we put the minimum wage up to $1500 per week so that everyone could eat and pay their mortgages and give $150 per week to their pastors so pastor could afford a private jet like Neil has? Great idea, isn't it. what could possibly go wrong? Also working week cut from 40 hours to 28 hours. Also lets raise the prime ministers' pension from $250,000 to something they can really live on , how about $2,,500,000 per year?

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CatIslandBoy 4 years, 9 months ago

I agree with SP! Anyone who suggests that the current minimum wage of $150.00 is sufficient does possess a slave master mentality. I don't think this is racist. It just so happens that the Bosses who rail against any increase happens to be White and Wealthy, and those suffering from being underpaid happens to be black.

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