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Wage Move ‘Soon’

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IMMIGRATION and Labour Minister Keith Bell.

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

A REASONABLE “workable” wage for Bahamian workers is “coming very soon”, according to Immigration and Labour Minister Keith Bell.

Minister Bell made the statement before yesterday’s Cabinet meeting when he also told reporters that Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis recommitted his government to addressing outstanding labour issues during a meeting with the country’s unions.

That meeting was held early yesterday morning with Minister Bell and officials of umbrella unions along with their subsidiaries inclusive of unions representing “nurses, doctors, hotel and immigration” officers.

Although Mr Bell did not want to disclose the details of that meeting, he said issues relating to overtime pay among other things were addressed.

He said: “We had a meeting with the unions this morning and the... Prime Minister addressed the unions directly and indicated that this is a government which has heard their concerns, their issues and at this morning’s meeting at Cabinet we intend to address a number of those matters. I cannot speak too much about it because I don’t want to pre-empt anything the Prime Minister would want to address today.

“There are a number of agreements that have many outstanding issues – pay, issues relating to wage, hours of work, overtime, etc, and so all of those matters we will be discussing today.”

In the lead up to the general election, the Minnis administration continued to face union unrest sparked by unresolved workplace grievances.

A month before election, the Progressive Liberal Party signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas and Trade Union Congress promising to ensure long-standing union issues were resolved. A number of union leaders later revealed they had not been involved in the MoU and distanced themselves from it.

In a tweet yesterday, press secretary Clint Watson confirmed that Mr Davis had met with the Commonwealth Trade Union Congress, saying he set the “tone that abuse of workers must end”.

“He also announced a new programme agreed by Cabinet to benefit workers,” Mr Watson added.

Meanwhile, Mr Bell said: “You would recall that during the campaign, we would have signed a MoU with the union and the Prime Minister, he was leading from the front and that is the reason why he actually went there himself with me by his side to demonstrate to them that we intend as a government to live up to our obligations.”

Mr Bell also reiterated the government’s commitment to increasing the minimum wage which he said is expected to happen very soon.

“That is something that we intend to bring legislation as soon as possible,” the minister added. “It has already been addressed at a Cabinet level. I would say The Bahamas will be signing on with the ILO (the International Labour Organisation) for decent work (wage) which also encompasses minimum wage on December 6.

“So, it’s a very big thing that’s going to be happening very soon in the country and the government has committed to ensuring that we remove the minimum wage to a reasonable, workable wage. That’s coming very soon.”

Comments

joeblow 2 weeks ago

... the solution is to increase the value employees bring to an employer. A functionally illiterate 21 year old with 2 children and a high school diploma realistically does not have much value to offer an employer! Increasing the minimum wage only increases employee hardship and increases unemployment as employers lay off staff and overwork those who remain!

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John 2 weeks ago

Obviously this economically immature government is about to set out an economic disaster if they attempt to force wage increases on employees who are trying to recover from lockdowns curfews and an economy that is still not firing on all cylinders. Many workers are currently being paid despite there being insufficient economic activity to keep them full employed. By seeking minimum wage increases at this time government will stimulate mass unemployment. And not to speak about a livable wage. Obviously Keith Bell is out of his league and should not allow Union leaders whose only goal is to satisfy their members demands in the short term, to drive nails in the coffins of thes rebounding economy. Even some seasoned workers in the US workforce can’t draw a livable wage. Simply because external factors , like housing shortages, drive up the cost of living. Here it is many other factors and tourism being the major industry drives up the cost of living for Bahamians . So whilst the employers in the tourism industry may be able to absorb a minimum wage increases , what tge mom and pop shops and single proprietors? Of course stores like Super Vslue and gas stations will pass this cost on to their customers and because of the high volume of sales it may not be noticeable, but what about an employer with 2-4 employees where labor is already a great percentage of sales?

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bahamianson 1 week, 6 days ago

Ya need.population controll as well. You cant have 25 year old mothers with five children and no job. You must do something with the five sperm donors that contributed. It is a hampster wheel. We have majority entry level jobs and entry level education individuals . We have a.problem that needs.a.comprehensive solution and our politicians cant think past their fat pensions. Business' are downsizing now , so i can imagine the joblessness.

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John 1 week, 6 days ago

The Bahamas is underpopulated. Many of the Southern islands have barely and population. And if the indigenous Bahamians were to stop procreating , then Tge Bahamas will not be overrun and taken over by Foreigners, many woo are seeking citizenship based on net worth. Bahamian population is not the problem, but Bahamian population distribution . And it was not always that way. Many islands were thriving and since the inhabitants were mostly farmers and fishermen, a family of five was not large and many families consisted of 10-12 family members. And they all could be gainfully employed. Two or three out the family would be sent to Nassau to further their education or seek employment there. But it was Pindling who told Bahamians to ‘leave your farms and fishing boats and come to New Providence and Grand Bahama and experience this new form of economic opportunity.’ It was the opening of one of the phases of Atlantis. So the people left the Family Islands. And everyone crowded in Nassau. And the rest is history. Including the escalation of crime, the death of the Family Islands and their culture and the nee or increased diseases among Bahamians due to their change in diet to mostly American fast food.

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bahamianson 1 week, 6 days ago

well, minister Pia-Rolle is telling Private businesses to hire individuals from the 52 week programme , and Minister bell is saying that there will be an increase in minimum wage. Someone mentioned that their employer is cutting staff by 50% at the company where she works . Now how does this work? Sit back and eat your popcorn. Government wants you to be lenient , but wants you to pay taxes at the end of the year. If employers are lenient to employees, then government needs to be lenient to employers.

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Dawes 1 week, 6 days ago

On one page the Government is asking the private sector to hire more of their people, on this they are saying wages will be going up. Business will now not hire anyone unless absolutely necessary, and at the same time begin to look at reducing any waste until they get more clarity on Government plans . A lot of business have been stuck in the catch 22 of having 3 people to do 2 jobs but due to the wage this was OK. Now if the wage went up a silly amount, then it would be 2 to do 3 with the expected increase in productivity. Will be interesting times.

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 6 days ago

The Govt needs a scientific study or poll on what is the situation with the labour force ...... Has there been a 10 year census done yet? ...... Govt needs reliable facts before this Labour Minister starts running on

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FrustratedBusinessman 1 week, 6 days ago

The Bahamas has a wage issue, but it is not the root problem. The root problem is simply that most jobs in the Bahamian economy are not skilled, and with high unemployment, you can just bring in any random person off of the street to fill them. Those kinds of positions are never going to pay anyone a "liveable wage", and the fact that there is such an abundance of surplus labour doesn't help. Skilled jobs are somewhat niche, and opportunities to get in them are gatekept by the old boys club that current has all the power in that industry.

The Bahamas has an economy built around bartending and room cleaning, how can you possibly expect for people to obtain a "living wage" from those kinds of positions?

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