The process to determine a new national minimum wage is at an advanced stage, with the findings of a study on the matter to be submitted to Government by next Monday.
Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations Colin Jordan said today that while the governing Barbados Labour Party (BLP) had proposed a minimum wage of $8 per hour in its 2018 election manifesto, the final rate would be among the recommendations in the study.
Speaking in the Well of Parliament as debate on the 2020-2021 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure continued at Parliament’s temporary location at the Worthing Corporate Centre, Christ Church, he noted that the existing minimum wage of $6.25 an hour currently only applies to shop assistants, but the Government was extending the requirement for all categories of workers.
Jordan explained that research was still being undertaken by his ministry’s Manpower Research and Statistical Unit to determine a final figure.
“I expect to have on my desk, or at least on the Permanent Secretary’s desk, by Monday morning, a report of their findings into what that minimum wage should be…; if we should phase the approach,” he told the Chamber from the Well, where he was flanked by high-ranking officers of his Ministry, including new Permanent Secretary Karen Best.
Jordan referred to previous studies which recommended a phased approach to implementing a minimum wage.
“And so, while we had indicated in our manifesto that we intended to work with $8…because we understand that these things require a little bit more research…we have not said how we will get to that $8 and the timeframe. That needs to be based on good research, and that research is currently being undertaken,” he stressed.
Jordan, whose ministry has been allocated $7.1 million in this year’s Estimates, also indicated that the research would address whether that national wage should be applied across the board or be segmented by sectors.
“We also discussed with the public sector and the private sector and the Minimum Wage Board, and the question as to whether it should be related to the different sectors…different industries, came to the fore. That was part of the research that is being undertaken at the moment,” the Labour Minister pointed out.
“Now, I have not given thought to a mechanism…like indexing; we have not given thought to that as yet. But suffice that it was raised [by Minister of Transport and Maintenance Dr William Duguid], we will factor that into our discussions if we should do an indexing of the minimum wage.
“But what is clear, is that there will be a minimum wage set across the board. That is to say, beyond shop assistants. But whether it will be the same number for every sector remains to be seen based on the information that comes out of the research that is being done,” Jordan added. [email protected]