11.5 Per Cent Increase in Minimum Wage Come February 1


Minimum wage earners can expect more in their pay packets come February 1, 2005, as government has agreed to an 11.5 per cent increase in the national minimum wage.
Horace Dalley, Minister of Labour and Social Security, made the announcement while addressing the annual end of year luncheon for the board of directors and staff of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) on December 22 at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.
The increase, he explained, was initially slated for January 1 but circumstances, such as the passage of Hurricane Ivan and the illness of one of the three-member Minimum Wage Advisory Commission, had delayed the completion of the report, recommending the wage hike.
Minister Dalley informed that he had only received the report last week, following which he took it to Cabinet where it was well supported. The increase however, cannot take effect until it receives an affirmative vote in the Houses of Parliament. He pointed to the fact that Parliament would not resume its sitting until January 11, which further contributed to the effective date being pushed back a month.
“I am announcing it (the new date) now because I don’t want to have workers or businesses wondering when this will take effect. I want to make it known so that companies can make the necessary adjustments to the payrolls”, the Minister said.
In the meantime, he promised that an annual review of the minimum wage would take immediate effect and would be guided by the inflation rate. The minimum wage was last increased in November 2003.
On another note, Minister Dalley commended the board of directors of the National Insurance Fund, whom he said, had met their targets despite it being a “rough year”.
“The objectives were met, they made a lot of money for the fund and for pensioners,” he informed. The fund, established in 1990, is administered by a 14-member board of directors drawn from the private and public sectors, under the chairmanship of former government minister Easton Douglas. As at October 31, 2004, the self-sustaining fund stood at $35.9 billion.
Mr. Douglas, in addressing the gathering, pointed to the fact that although it was a challenging year, the fund was able to meet the needs of the 75,000 beneficiaries.

JIS Social