Employers are being urged to participate in the consultations on the minimum wage, organised by the Minimum Wage Advisory Commission, to have their views heard on the matter.
Commission Chairman, Silvera Castro, who spoke to JIS News on June 19, at the first in the series of six consultations, held at the Montego Bay Civic Centre, Sam Sharpe Square, said that while he was satisfied with the turnout, he would like to see more participation from employers.
(Related Story: Adjustments to be made to Minimum Wage Rates)
He said that coming out of the session, the Commission “has got a feel of what the ordinary man would like the minimum wage to be." He noted however that “we need to arrive at a good balance, so we need to have both the employees and the employers there for us to arrive at a good balance."
He stated that the recommendation from the Commission has to address the issue of minimum wage adjustment “from a wide perspective, inclusive of issues relating to the economy, and ability to pay by employers, among others”.
The public consultations, to be held at venues across the island, will seek comments, suggestions or proposals, which will assist the Commission in its review of the National Minimum Wage and the Minimum Wage of industrial security guards.
“The main aim of the consultations is to get a consensus of how employees, employers and the various organisations feel about the minimum wage and their recommendation as to what the minimum wage should be,” Mr. Castro stated.
The remaining five sessions will be held in Portland, St. Ann, Manchester, St. Catherine and Kingston.
Mr. Castro said the Commission is looking to complete the consultations in two to three weeks and put forward its recommendations before the end of July.
“We are working with a timeframe because I really want to ensure that the Minister of (Labour and Social Security) gets this recommendation by say the third week in July and so far, we are on track for that,” he told JIS News.
The National Minimum Wage was last increased February 2011, moving from $4,070 to $4,500 per 40-hour work week, while that of security guards moved from $6,050 to $6,655.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, in her contribution to the 2012/13 Budget Debate in Gordon House, on June 5, informed that Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, has been asked to direct the Minimum Wage Commission to conduct a review of the existing rates, with a view to “making an adjustment during the course of this year."
Noting that the Government “values immensely”, the contribution of the Jamaican labour force to nation building, Mrs. Simpson Miller assured that “we will do everything in our power to secure their well-being."
“We are aware that the purchasing power of minimum wage workers, such as domestic workers, store clerks and security guards, has been reduced. This has implications for the standard of living of the workers at this level,” the Prime Minister pointed out.
Mr. Kellier will provide further details on the matter, during his contribution in the Sectoral Debate.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter