Cabinet has approved a 10 per cent increase for minimum wage earners and industrial security guards.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles, made the announcement during Tuesday’s January 25 sitting of the House of Representatives.
Effective February 28, 2011, the National Minimum Wage will move from $4, 070 per 40-hour work week to $4,500, while the minimum wage for industrial security guards will increase from $6, 050 per 40-hour week to $6,655.
Security guards will also receive increases in laundry allowance from $27.50 per hour to $30.25; fire arm premium from $30.25 to $33.28 per hour; and dog handler’s premium allowance from $20.35 per hour to $22.39. The life insurance coverage for security guards has also been increased from $1.5 million double indemnity to $2 million.
Mr. Charles told the House that a study has been commissioned to ascertain what is to be considered as a “liveable wage” in light of all of all the circumstances prevailing in the Jamaican economy.
“The work, in this regard, is not yet complete. However, based on the fact that no increases were made to the minimum wage in 2010, this Government has decided to effect the stated increases at this time,” he said.
He informed that the relevant Ministerial Orders on the increases, which are subject to affirmative resolution of both houses of Parliament, will be tabled next week.
Leader of the Opposition, The Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, expressed disappointed in the levels of increase granted to minimum wage earners.
“I understand your challenge, but this is not a normal time. All of us, the Government and Opposition, we have to find a way (to) make things better for those at the bottom,” she said.
In his response the Labour Minister said the amount settled on was in no way an indication that the Government was being “unsympathetic to people at the bottom of the ladder.”
“It is a fact that these are not normal times, and that is why the Prime Minister has instructed that, until the study of liveable wage is completed, we are to proceed with an increase in the minimum wage,” Mr. Charles stated.
CONTACT: LATONYA LINTON