Government’s Minimum Wage Bill is guaranteed support from the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, but BLP Chief Whip Santia Bradshaw said her side will not comment on it while there are other pressing national issues.
“This piece of legislation, we have no difficulty supporting, but it is very difficult for the Barbados Labour Party to comprehend how you can have a debate on this legislation without addressing the issues that are affecting every single Barbadian across this land,” Bradshaw said after the Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss introduced the Bill in the House of Assembly Tuesday.
The Bill repeals the Wages Council Act and provides for the minister to be advised by a board comprising Government, labour, and employer representatives on specific places or industries that may need a minimum wage. It also recommends a set conditions of work.
“Anything which comes to this chamber relating to the issue of labour, the Barbados Labour Party will support,” Bradshaw said, explaining that the BLP, “was born out of the bosom of the labour movement and it is upon that basis that we continue to fight for the workers of this country”.
However, she said that the BLP felt that it could not speak to minimum wages “when in this country businesses are unable to keep their machinery moving, where people are unable to keep people employed, where . . . people cannot get their VAT [Value Added Tax] refunds in big businesses and small businesses across this country.
“We wish to hear from the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister what is the position of the financial state of this country,” the St Michael South East MP said adding that, “we can’t sit here and pretend that it is business as usual.
“We are mindful, as other Barbadians are, that if it is that we even bring about this piece of legislation, there still has to be a policy position from this administration as it relates to the health of the Barbadian economy.
“Where are we going as a country?” Bradshaw asked.
The Opposition spokeswoman pointed to a series of recent economic downgrades at the hands of international ratings agencies. She also made reference to recent concerns raised about the devaluation of the currency.
“Local economists, regional economists, the international community [are] speaking on the future of Barbados, but yet the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister of Barbados continue to remain silent,” she lamented.