Minimum wages board by next year

Daycare workers, as well as security officers, top the list of local employees likely to benefit from the establishment of the long-awaited minimum wages board next year.

Acting Chief Labour Officer Victor Felix told reporters today that it was now “up to Government to put the mechanism in motion” for the establishment of the board and a minimum wage for various sectors, since provision has already been made in the existing labour laws.

“We have in particular, areas that we believe labour administration can look at, at this time. For instance, we are very concerned that security sector persons are exposed to some standards that are less than acceptable we believe. Another area that we get concerned with is the whole day care – elderly care and children care – area of activity. This is another area that we feel the board should look at,” said Felix, as he provided an update on the minimum wages board on the sidelines of the Labour Department’s Labour Management Relations Seminar this morning.

“I mentioned the area of domestic workers. We have not set a minimum wage in that area for many years and of course the board, once it is established will be in a position to investigate any other area that we feel they need to,” he said.

It was during an October 2015 debate on the Shops Bill that it was first disclosed that a minimum wages board would be established. It was envisaged that the board would consist of nine members  – three representing employers, three employees and three appointees of the Minister of Labour.

Such a board would make recommendations to the minister on options of either a national minimum wage or a sectorial minimum wage, based on socio economic conditions.

The board would also be responsible for setting industry standards and guidelines.

Barbados has grappled over the years with issues relating to minimum wages for domestic workers, shop assistants, hotel workers, service station attendants and garment industry workers.

Acknowledging that wages vary according to sectors, Felix said he believed the minimum wages board was likely to stick with a sectorial minimum wage recommendation as opposed to a national one.

“Then the public would feel more of an impact,” Felix said, adding “we are in the process of establishing the minimum wages board, therefore certainly sometime in the coming year we should see operations of that board and the effect of their work”.

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