By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas Hotel and Restaurant Employers’ Association (BHEA) said yesterday it would welcome the opportunity to discuss changes to the country’s minimum wage, acknowledging it would have implications for certain categories of workers within the industry.
“The Bahamas Hotel and Restaurants Employers’ Association (BHEA) has been made aware of the Government’s intention to increase the minimum wager,” BHEA president Robert Sands said in a statement.
“We would welcome the opportunity to discuss with the Minister and his Tripartite Council the implications of any improvement at this time of the minimum wage, and we recognise the implications that it would have on certain categories of workers in the hotel sector.
He added: “Certainly we are aware of the concerns expressed by others in wanting to give an increase. However, we believe the increase should be considered in light of other activities that are contemplated or currently exist in the economy.
“We believe that through discussions, some reasonable agreement and understanding can be reached to the benefit of all.”
Labour Minister Shane Gibson recently said the Government will consider proposals for an increase in the country’s minimum wage. The minimum wage for the public sector is currently $210 per week, and $150 per week for private sector employees.
Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association BHTA) president Stuart Bowe recently told Tribune Business that the BHTA also looked forward to being a part of the discussions.
“The Minister of Labour in his Labour Day address has indicated his intention to engage all stakeholders in discussions around minimum wage and other labour-related matters. We look forward to being part of the discussions,” said Mr Bowe.
Super Value’s owner, Rupert Roberts, recently told Tribune Business that he could accept a 33 per cent increase in the weekly minimum wage to $200, while agreeing that “nobody can live” on the existing $150 per week.
Bahamas Public Service Union’s (BPSU) president, John Pinder has called for a 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.