Sat | Dec 3, 2022

Year-end deadline for minimum wage report

Published:Thursday | November 24, 2022 | 12:07 AM

The National Minimum Wage Commission (NMWC) says it has revised the timeline for presenting its report to the Government after carrying out extensive consultations across the country on a new minimum wage.

At the final of a series of consultations held at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in Kingston on Wednesday, the commission Chairman, Dr Ronald Robinson, said that the group had initially planned to submit its report to the ministry by next February.

However, he said that the Ministry of Labour asked the commission to fast-track its work to deliver a report by year end.

“We probably will be working through Christmas to make sure that the policymakers have the appropriate tool to treat with these issues as quickly as possible,” Robinson said.

And as the commission prepares to deliberate on the plethora of submissions, a number of persons and organisations recommended a $15,000 increase per week in the minimum wage Wednesday.

President of the Jamaica Household Workers Union (JHWU), Elaine Duncan, told members of the commission that her organisation wants the Government to make the transition from minimum wage to a liveable wage.

However, she recommended that the minimum wage be increased from $9,000 to $12,000 per 40-hour workweek.

She said that coming out of a recent conference with its regional counterparts, the JHWU discovered that Jamaica’s minimum wage was among the lowest in the region.

“In the deliberations, I would like to ask that this be looked at to see how we could catch up with the rest of the Caribbean,” she added.

Human resource manager at Manpower & Maintenance Services Limited (MMSL), Yolande Sealy-Kerr, said, in her submission, that since the implementation of the latest minimum wage increase in April 2022, the Government is yet to make the necessary adjustments in keeping with the 28 per cent hike.

The MMSL workers provide janitorial and related services to public hospitals, ministries, departments, and agencies.

She told members of the commission that the minimum wage increase of 28 per cent has not yet been honoured by the Government.

“The reason given is that the increase requires Cabinet approval as the precursor to getting budgetary support from the Ministry of Finance,” she said.

“This is the situation with minimum-wage increase which happens every time - a disconnect between Cabinet that approves the increase and the budgetary support at the agency level.”

She said that her company has to pay the increases upfront and then negotiate with the Government for improved payments for the service it provides.

The MMSL executive, however, pointed out that companies in the private sector are more diligent in paying the increased costs when the minimum wage is increased.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com