JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Chairman of the National Minimum Wage Advisory Commission, Silvera Castro, says he is impressed with the recommendations coming out of the minimum wage consultations now underway.
  • He said the proposals show that Jamaicans are more educated about the state of the economy and have the country’s interest at heart.
  • The national minimum wage was increased from $5,000 to $5,600 for a 40-hour work week in January 2014.

Chairman of the National Minimum Wage Advisory Commission, Silvera Castro, says he is impressed with the recommendations coming out of the minimum wage consultations now underway.

He said the proposals show that Jamaicans are more educated about the state of the economy and have the country’s interest at heart.

“Jamaicans are more informed and much more educated now, and I think they realize what the economy is all about…what they are saying is that what we need is job provision, what we need is for the economy to grow,” he noted.

“They are saying too, that it doesn’t make sense to hike the minimum wage out of the reach of the employer but to keep it at a level where the employee can be comfortable and the employer comfortable and there can be provision of more jobs. But it should not be out of whack,” he added.

Mr. Castro was speaking to JIS News after the latest consultation held on August 25 in Ocho Rios for stakeholders in the parishes of St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland.

The series of sessions, which got underway earlier this month, seek to obtain the views of employers and employees as the Commission seeks broad-based suggestions and proposals on a pending review of the national minimum wage as well as the wage for security guards.

Mr. Castro said he was impressed with the level of input and the quality of recommendations from the participants.

“I must say that I like what I see here in St Ann, where the Chamber of Commerce is here, the leaders of (Local) Government, the Custos is here, the Mayors (of St Ann’s Bay and Port Maria)…they are here so they are leading by example … (and) they are making their contributions as Jamaicans, not from a political point of view, but as Jamaicans,” he pointed out.

 

Among the recommendations was for the minimum wage to be pegged to inflation. St Ann businesswoman and former president of the St. Ann Chamber of Commerce, Eva Myers, who made the proposal, said the minimum wage must be in line with the economic realities of the country.

Ocho Rios sole trader, Sharon Sinclair agreed that an increase was justified, but proposed a multi-tiered system for security guards working in high, medium and low-risk environments.

“Those of us who have high risk businesses, we know we have to pay more but it is unfortunate and unfair that someone with a low risk environment has to pay the same…amount,” she maintained.

A concern expressed, which was common at the other consultations, was the need for private sector employers to comply with the minimum wage guidelines, particularly those in the retail and wholesale trades.

The Ocho Rios meeting brings to three, the number of consultations carried out, with others held in Mandeville and Montego Bay. The series will culminate in Kingston in mid-September, and the Commission is expected to present its report to the Minister of Labour and Social Security by the end of October this year.

The national minimum wage was increased from $5,000 to $5,600 for a 40-hour work week in January 2014. The Minimum Wage for Industrial Security Guards was also increased by 12 per cent, moving from $7, 320.40 to $8,198.80 per 40-hour work week.