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Govt Seeks To Raise Minimum Wage To $210

Shane Gibson in the House of Assembly.

Shane Gibson in the House of Assembly.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE government will raise the national minimum wage to $210 per week following months of research and negotiations on the topic, Labour and National Insurance Minister Shane Gibson announced in the House of Assembly yesterday.

The weekly minimum wage for public servants is already $210, but the minimum wage for private sector workers is currently set at $150.

The government’s planned 40 per cent increase is “significant,” Mr Gibson said during his budget communication.

Nonetheless, the increase would be less than the 100 per cent to 133 per cent increase recommended by Obie Ferguson, president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), and John Pinder, president of the Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU).

Both men recommended to the government that a minimum wage increase of between $300 and $350 be made.

The National Tripartite Council recommended the increase to $210, taking into consideration advice from local stakeholders as well as advice from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Organisation of Employers (IEO), the Inter-American Bank and CARICOM state officials.

This minimum wage increase “is a compromise,” Mr Gibson said.

He added: “There are many in the private sector, in the trade union movement who would like more. (But) everybody recognises that we are now just coming out of a recession. We are now turning the corner as the prime minister has said. It was important for us to reach a compromise and this is fully supported by the Chamber of Commerce. What we have to do moving forward is to put ourselves in a position where we could constantly monitor and review the minimum wage where we won’t allow another 14, 12, 13 years to pass before we have another increase in the minimum wage. And so we will rely on information from the Department of Statistics. We will rely on information provided from the Chamber of Commerce and Employers Federation. We will rely on information provided by the National Council of Trade Unions and the Bahamas’ Trade Union Congress and they recommended that to us, so we accept it. We will move on and we will have it reviewed again to see how we could increase in the future.

“Every merchant throughout the Bahamas should be happy for this increase. Unlike those individuals like us making plenty of money, these people who make the minimum wage spend all their money and I could understand why Super Value and Solomon’s and all of these business places could appreciate this increase because every single dollar made by these individuals will be spent. They have no room to save money. That is why we think it was widely accepted and we look forward to reviewing this again in the very near future. It is the view of this PLP government that this increase in the minimum wage is long overdue and will be welcomed by the working people of the Bahamas. I will add that while the government may not totally be satisfied with the figure that is being recommended, in light of the current economic situation we have decided to use it at this time.

“It is hoped that once the resolution to increase the minimum wage is adopted by both houses of Parliament, our government will amend the Minimum Wage Act whereby national minimum wage will be reviewed regularly to ensure that it keeps pace with the cost of living and never again citizens have to wait 13 years to see an increase,” he said.

Comments

andrewa 3 years, 3 months ago

the discussions on minimum wage in the Bahamas are clouded by ignorance and the influence of a dishonest merchant class and its agents (typically young men wearing bow ties and pretending to be economists). You cannot take the classical position on minimum wages (that they negate job creation) and apply it to a country like the Bahamas, where jobs are created by external investment, NOT local businessmen. In the Bahamas, the higher the minimum wage, the more money goes into consumption and the more the economy is boosted.

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killemwitdakno 3 years, 3 months ago

which is where the tax is right now right? Even if they need to change it, there would be something in income that could be taxed.

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themessenger 3 years, 3 months ago

Another lawyer wannabe economist who never ran a business or had to make payroll for more people than himself. I suppose the 50+ people on our payroll don't fall under the category of job creation nor do we or they contribute anything to the local economy as obviously we are of that dishonest merchant class that pays no taxes, exploits the unwashed horde and encourages child labour.

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andrewa 3 years, 3 months ago

For your information, I have created businesses, one of which is an international telecommunications venture that actually brings in foreign exchange. How much foreign exchange does your merchant outfit bring in?? Does it have overseas customers paying money abroad for services provided in the Bahamas, which is then imported as money (not Central bank coupons) into the Bahamas? Or does it sell wares and circulate money within the domestic economy. If the latter, then it creates zero employment, but acts rather as a middleman between the consumer, whose behaviour creates economic activity and the profit that results from that activity.

Within the domestic economy, one thing creates employment: CONSUMPTION. The dollar spent by the consumer creates the demand that the businessman parasitically (I do not mean that in a bad sense, but a nuetral one) benefits from by making profit. OF COURSE he has to employ people to do the actual labour necessary to actualize that profit (unless he is going to do it all himself), but he employs no more than is absolutely necessary and constantly exerts pressure against expending on labour where he can, so as to maximise profits for himself. But that is no more 'creating employment' than the tax man 'creates' revenues!

Consumers grow the economy and boost employment. If wages were doubled, consumers would have more disposable income to spend more in the economy, creating more jobs and further enriching you merchants.

Sadly, you do not realize this because you are so submersed in this false paradigm about what role you play in the economy. But it is proved over and over again, not least by the huge increase in the profits of Bay Street merchants' businesses which resulted from the labour reforms and growth of the middle class which the same Bay Street peope so vigorously resisted.

As a person who is an employer and is involved in REAL economic activity, I would never pay anyone in this country less than 300 per week.

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EnoughIsEnough 3 years, 3 months ago

i am in agreement with andrewa above.

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killemwitdakno 3 years, 3 months ago

Why are they worried about about raising minimum wage if they promised SOVEREIGN FUND? o. Does "the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Organisation of Employers (IEO), the Inter-American Bank and CARICOM state officials" know about that? one is a maybe ay. How about then since they MAYBE won't get this SOVEREIGN FUND, raise minimum wage fully for at least companies that fit the VAT bracket, then when/ IF it reach, don't pay them nothing at all.

Richest black country gdp per capita. Richest in the Caribbean. 3rd richest in the region. But it was just $150 a wk when it cost how much to eat each day here again??

As a local business , you'd want more people to have more money to spend DUH. http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Bahamas

add a $20,000 new car to the expense list since duty ain't drop. ya forget you asked these $150/wk ppl to buy that.

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andrewa 3 years, 3 months ago

You got it!

If you want to understand the closed, myopic and deluded mentality of the merchant class in this country, just go back to the famed Burma road riots of 1942.

The merchants (who no doubt saw themselves as 'job creators') colluded to prevent the US contractor who was building the new airport from paying their Bahamian labourers the same as their white US labourers. Apparently, they felt it would lead to wage pressures in their own businesses..

But what the total idiots did not see was that the extra money made by workers in a closed island economy only had one place to go (back into the pockets of the merchants themselves).

It is the same thing today. So long as they feel relatively wealthier than the common man, the traditional merchant has no interest in the fact that boosting disposable income at the BOTTOM end (which all goes into consumption) will benefit us all, ESPECIALLY the merchant.

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killemwitdakno 3 years, 3 months ago

Or $4 million on Stronger Bahamas is equivalent to 27,000 employed for a week. A week without crime.

Government could stop wasting money and add more employees to their understaffed roster. God knows that $20million in the hands of Urban Renewal may disappear.

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newcitizen 3 years, 3 months ago

The government should not hire any new employees. They already have enough people doing little to nothing. That $4m and every other dollar that they are wasting needs to go into education and training. If you want a life without crime, then we have to educate the youth. Simply growing the government is part of what got us into the broken system we now live in.

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