STATEMENT TO PARLIAMENT ON THE INCREASE IN THE NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE
THE MINIMUM WAGE FOR INDUSTRIAL SECURITY GUARDS
JANUARY 19, 2016
Mr. Speaker: it is, indeed, a pleasure for me to be afforded this opportunity this afternoon to introduce in this honourable house the National Minimum Wage Order, 2016 and the Minimum Wage Industrial Security Guards Order, 2016.
Mr. Speaker, I am particularly humbled by the fact that the first debate I will lead in this honourable house in my capacity as Minister of Labour and Social Security in the hard working administration of the most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, is in respect of the minimum wage that impacts the lives and livelihood of the working men and women who tenant this piece of rock we call home and continue to lend to it a sense of place and purpose in the post-colonial era that has impacted on the development of this nation in fundamental ways.
I appreciate, too Mr. Speaker, the impact which the resolution we debate today will have on the lives of some of the most vulnerable workers in our society, and the fact that it will also affect employers who are equally committed to the growth and development of Jamaica.
If we opt to start from the vantage point of what we have before us rather than what we wished we had, then I am certain that not only will we reinforce as a legislative body our responsibility to safeguarding the interests of our most vulnerable citizens; but more importantly, will lay the template of co-operation and civilised social living for the next generation of Jamaicans to follow.
So, Mr. Speaker, the rationale behind the promulgation of the Minimum Wage Act is the recognition of the fact that there are certain categories of workers who do not have the bargaining power to negotiate fair wages without the intervention of the legislature or the Minister of Labour.
In fact, Mr. Speaker, the Minimum Wage Act sets out the mechanism whereby minimum wages for groups of wage earners can be fixed and adjusted from time to time.
This is of more than passing importance, Mr. Speaker, because by virtue of section 3 of the act, the Minister of Labour is authorized to fix a minimum wage by ‘ministerial orders’ for any occupation in the island, either generally, or in any specified areas, for persons employed in certain occupations where the wages paid are considered to be unreasonably low.
In response to section 3 of the act, Mr. Speaker, several orders were established throughout the years, but as time progressed many of the categories of workers previously encompassed under the various orders obtained trade union representation and no longer needed the assistance of the legislature to, as it were, ‘fix’ their wages…READ MORE