Effective November 1, the National Minimum Wage will be increased by 11.1 per cent to $2,000 per 40-hour work week, up from $1,800.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Horace Dalley
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Horace Dalley, who made the announcement today at his office in Kingston, said the minimum wage for industrial security guards would move to $80.00 per hour or $3,200 per 40-hour work week, up from $70.70 per hour or $2,828 per week, an increase of 13.15 per cent.
In addition, laundry allowance for the security guards will be increased to $16.50 per hour from $15.00 per hour; firearm allowance will go up to $17.00 per hour from $15.00, and the dog handler’s allowance will move to $12.00 per hour, up from $10.00. Insurance coverage will remain at $1 million with double indemnity.
The Minister said that in arriving at the new wage level, the Minimum Wage Advisory Commission took into consideration submissions made by individuals and groups, which appeared before it, such as the ability of employers to pay, comparable wages and income, level of productivity and requirements of economic development.
He cautioned employers not to use the new rates as an excuse to effect layoffs, as was the case two years ago, when an increase in the wage rate left a large number of security guards jobless.
The Minister also expressed concern about the working conditions of the approximately 14,000 persons employed as security guards, most of whom were working without basic entitlements, inclusive of leave provisions, overtime payments and social protection.
“I will therefore make every effort to ensure that we uplift the conditions of work of our security guards.and create an environment in which increasing opportunities for decent work leads to social inclusion and improved livelihood for our security guards,” he said.
Stating that the Government was committed to adopting a minimum wage regulation as one approach to protecting workers in small and medium sized enterprises, who have no union representation, Mr. Dalley announced that new wage rates would be announced on January 1 of every year, beginning in 2005.
Senator Dwight Nelson, Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions representative, commended the Minister for the move to increase the wage rate, noting that it was the obligation of all employers not to pay wages below this rate.
He also endorsed the Minister’s warning to employers that the new rates should not in any circumstance lead to layoffs and loss of jobs in the security industry.
Since the introduction of the minimum wage in 1975, there have been regular adjustments to the rates. Within the last 10 years, the weekly national minimum wage has increased by over 500 per cent, from $300 in 1992 to $1,800 in 2002. The last adjustment to the minimum wage became effective on January 7, 2002, and represented a 50 per cent increase.
In the case of industrial security guards, during the period 1992 to 2002, the weekly minimum wage rose by 1,078 per cent to its present level of $2,828 compared with the rate of $240 per week in 1992.