The Minimum Wage Advisory Commission will be meeting next week to analyse submissions made by the public, which will assist in its review of the national minimum wage and the minimum wage of industrial security guards.
Speaking at the final regional consultation on the national minimum wage and minimum wage for industrial security guards, Chairman of the Commission, Silvera Castro, noted that the support received so far from the public has been good.
“We will be looking at the economic situation of the country, because that is important too, and to ensure that we arrive at a good balance for both the employer and the employee, because the survival of both is of utmost importance to us,” Mr. Silvera said.
He also informed that after the committee makes its submission to the Minister of Labour and Social Security, the Hon. Derrick Kellier, the Minister will then make his submission to Cabinet, after which a final decision will be made.
The final regional consultation was held on July 5, at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, on North Street.
In his contribution at the consultation, President of the Jamaica Society for Industrial Security (JSIS), Commander George Overton, said that during the last round of increases in February 2011, there was an erosion of margins within the industry.
“Companies were no longer able to re-invest. They were no longer able to improve on the levels of security and their whole infrastructure – new vehicles and training,” Commander Overton said.
He noted that it was based on this that the “JSIS is recommending to this Commission that we do not consider an increase at this point in time."
In his response, Member of the Minimum Wage Advisory Commission, Danny Roberts, argued that the points made by the JSIS were a “recurring argument."
“I have heard the argument ad infinitum over the last five to ten years, particularly of the security guard industry and it’s a recurring argument. What I’ll love to be able to see is some justification to all of these things you have stated. I note that you said that your profit margin is declining, that you are making a loss. I hope that you are aware of some of the telling stories that come from security guards about their status and situations and I hope you are not unmindful of that,” Mr. Roberts said.
“I am saying that there needs to be some justification in respect of the status of the company and its inability to pay. There needs to be some transparency, some information and the Commission has that power to summon information and to look at books,” he added.
For his part, Assistant General Secretary, Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU), Keith Comrie, supported the move to increase the level of minimum wage, citing the increase in the cost of living.
“We are asking you to take serious considerations in making the necessary adjustments to the minimum wage that the working poor can afford a good meal each day for themselves and their children,” Mr. Comrie said, while suggesting an increase in the minimum wage of $8,000 per week.
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 the Labour and Social Security Minister, 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."
Mr. Kellier will provide further details on the matter during his contribution in the current Sectoral Debate. Other consultations were held in Portland, St. Ann, Manchester, St. Catherine and St. James.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter