Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon Pearnel Charles, has commissioned a study to determine a minimum livable wage for Jamaican workers, to guide future adjustments in the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon Pearnel Charles.
Mr. Charles has also announced plans to seek to have a Joint Industrial Council (JIC) re-established for private security guards, to allow them to negotiate improvements in pay and working conditions, outside of his Ministry’s minimum rates for that industry.
Speaking in the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives Tuesday (October 12), Mr. Charles said that there are several factors which must be taken into account in determining adjustments in minimum wages.
“There must be a balance between the increase being considered, and the consequences of such an increase,” Mr. Charles insisted. He noteD that, given the current state of the economy, “it is strongly felt that any increase at this time could result in a reduction in the number of hours worked and, ultimately, job losses”.
However, Mr. Charles felt that security guards should be able to have their duties and performance assessed to negotiate improvements.
“We are not imposing anything on anybody, but we think that we are holding back the security guards who, if they were permitted to go to the bargaining table with their employers and their representatives, could do a better job than waiting on the minimum wage,” he stated.
He said that he intended to meet with the security guards, their representatives and their employers, to discuss the re-establishment of the Councils. A JIC is a tripartite body comprising representatives from the employers, trade unions and the Government which facilitates dialogue and negotiation. The local private security sector did have a JIC in the past, but it fell apart in the 1980s.
Mr. Charles said that the members of the National Minimum Wage Advisory Commission, in their report, stated that the majority of participants in their consultations expressed a desire for a study to be done to determine what constitutes a livable wage, and made it a recommendation.
“I have commissioned this study, to determine what constitutes a livable wage,” Mr. Charles told the House.
He said that he would await completion of the study, before implementing any further adjustments in the minimum rates. The study is expected to be completed by March.
Mr. Charles said that he would be meeting with the Opposition, employers and trade unions to discuss the issues.