Independent Senator Sir Roy Trotman is concerned that that there is still too much exploitation of workers in Barbados.
Making his contribution to today’s debate on the Minimum Wage Bill 2017, Sir Roy pointed to the case of domestic workers, whose hourly rate of pay has remained at $1.50 since 1982.
“While very few people will work for that, and very few people will offer it, there is still the fact that it acts as a driver . . . to drive down the rate.
“And when it drives down the rate for the domestic, and the only other rate that one begins to see is a rate of $6.25 for shop assistants, then you would recognize that in many areas in the workforce in Barbados, employers
. . . will try to put people who are working for them within that wage range,” Sir Roy told the Upper House.
The former Barbados Workers Union boss therefore supports the establishment of sectoral minimums, in keeping with the call of local trade union movement.
He said this would eliminate the practice by some companies, including security firms, of negotiating one rate with a business entity, only to “try to move from the negotiated rate [by calling] workers [who are] doing the same work by a different job title and [paying] them three quarters of that rate”.
He told the Senate that while it was easy for individuals with special skills to negotiate their rates of pay and working conditions, “there are the vast majority of people in any country, in any community who will fall among the ranks of those who are most vulnerable and who need to be protected by the authorities”.
Sir Roy said such protection would guard against exploitation of workers.
“If we limit this fundamentally to those that are at the very bottom rung of the ladder, then what we would be doing is maintaining the same exploitation cycle and we would be grinding the workforce in a manner for which there is no justification,” he told fellow legislators.