THE national minimum wage is to be increased by 11 per cent, while the minimum rates for security guards will go up by 10 per cent, effective September 3.
This was announced yesterday by the Minister of Labour and Social Security Derrick Kellier as he piloted the National Minimum Wage Order 2012 in the House of Representatives.
The order will move the national minimum wage from $4,500 to $5,000 per 40-hour work week, and the minimum hourly rate from $112.50 to $125 per hour, representing an 11 per cent increase. An order for new minimum rates for industrial security guards was also approved, moving their hourly rates up by 10 per cent, from $166.38 per hour to $180.76 per hour and a 40-hour pay of $7,320, up from $6,655.
Security guards will also receive an increase in laundry allowance from $30.25 to $33.30 per hour; firearm allowance from $33.28 to $36.60 per hour; and dog handler's allowance from $22.39 to $24.63 per hour. However, their life insurance coverage will remain at $2 million with double indemnity.
The minister confirmed that the increases were exactly those proposed by the National Minimum Wage Advisory Commission, which held consultations with the public earlier this month. The commission comprised human resource/industrial relations manager Sylvester Castro, chairman, and Bernita Locke, employers' representative, and Danny Roberts, head of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute at Mona.
Kellier told the House of Representatives that the increases showed the Government's commitment to improving productivity among workers of all categories, and creating space for decent work environment and social protection.
While the increases and the six-week wait for implementation may trigger dissent from the trade unions, they closely matched the predictions of the Jamaica Employers' Federation, whose president, Wayne Chen, had suggested that a $500 per week increase, while not being ideal, would balance against current financial constraints.
The Jamaica Observer had predicted a ten per cent increase, based on the commission's focus on not endangering employment, especially in light of the fact that a number of minimum wage earners are employed by government employees whose salaries have been frozen for the past two years, as well as Bank of Jamaica's prediction of 10-12 per cent inflation in 2012 following the May tax increases.
However, it is still uncertain how the increase in minimum rates for industrial security guards will be received by the security companies, who strongly resisted an increase during the consultations.