JEF, household workers welcome new minimum wage
The Jamaica Employers' Federation (JEF) and the Jamaica Household Workers' Union (JHWU) have welcomed the increase in minimum wage to $7,000 per 40-hour work week, effective August 1. The new rate was announced by Labour Minister Shahine Robinson during her Sectoral Presentation in Parliament on Tuesday.
"We are okay with it [new minimum wage]. We had someone on the National Minimum Wage Commission who participated in the talks and we think that it's reasonable. We have no issues with it," David Wan, president of the JEF, told The Gleaner yesterday.
The new figure represents a 13 per cent hike over the previous rate of $6,200, which took effect in March 2016.
According to Shirley Pryce, president of the JHWU, the increase exceeded her expectations, and she was pleased with the consultation process.
"I'm very happy for the increase because I wasn't looking for $800, based on prior increases," said Pryce. "Normally, we would have got $500 or $300, or so, but now, we are very happy. We take into consideration the employers also, and I'm sure the Ministry (of Labour and Social Security) also looked at that," she added
However, Pryce suggested that an increase in the minimum wage should be done annually and not at two-year intervals or more.
Senator Floyd Morris, deputy opposition spokesman on labour, believes that the Government could have done more based on the current economic climate.
"We have been seeing a slippage in the Jamaican currency when you take into consideration [movement in] inflation since the last minimum wage was increased [and] all of those factors. At least a move to $7,500 would have been more comfortable for me," Morris told The Gleaner.
Wan has urged employers to move beyond paying the statutory minimum wage.
"If employers feel that they can do better for a job well done [and for] long service with good performance, they should endeavour to do better than this," he said.