By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s (BCCEC) labour division head yesterday said the minimum wage increase will likely “match $250” per week or “close to it”.
Peter Goudie told Tribune Business that while he is not part of the committee formed by the National Tripartite Council to examine the issue, based on what he is hearing the committee may agree to the sum pledged by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in its general election campaign manifesto.
“The committee are still having surveys done, and I guess they want to put it all together, but we should have a meeting this coming Thursday. I don’t know if they are going to talk about it then or not. You heard what the Prime Minister said; he was looking at $250 a week, so we’re probably going to come close to it or match it,” he added.
Branding current inflation as “frightening”, and providing more than sufficient justification to raise the current $210 per week week minimum wage, Mr Goudie added: “It’s bad everywhere. The only thing that is in our favour is that we live on a rock that is only 22 by seven miles” so persons do not have such great distances to travel amid skyrocketing fuel prices.
“I think it is probably going to be close to $250 a week is all I can say, but let’s wait until Friday to see if they propose anything different than what we expect,” Mr Goudie added of the committee. At $250, that would represent a 19 percent increase on the present minimum wage, and be only the second time there has been a rise since it was introduced in 2002. The first was in 2015, when it rose by 40 percent from $150 to $210 as a result of VAT’s introduction.
Obie Ferguson QC, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) president, said yesterday: “We’ve had meetings with regard to the Government and things are progressing. This is precisely what we wanted.
“We have a committee from the outside reviewing the rise in the minimum wage, and the Government is actually doing the same thing. I’m certain employers are doing the same thing, so this is eventually going to happen.
“Once the minister of labour circulates the actual document, I think it will require him to have consultation certainly with the labour movement, and he will have to have consultation with the employers. Therefore I think we will collectively come up with our position as to why we think a minimum wage of $210 is not adequate for a Bahamian family of four.”