Increased minimum wage takes effect August 1

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

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MINISTER of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson yesterday announced a new national minimum wage and new hourly and weekly rates for security guards, effective August 1.

According to the minister, the new minimum wage will be increased from the current $6,200 per week to $7,000 per week, a 12.9 per cent movement, while the minimum rates for security guards will increase to $242.50 per hour, a 9.6 per cent rise, moving their basic weekly rates from $8,854 to $9,700 per week.

The minister also announced that she has recommended that a joint select committee of Parliament be appointed to deal with employment issues affecting the country's more than 30,000 security guards.

“I must point out that numerous concerns have been raised, and we must therefore take a serious look at what is happening in the industry,” she told the House.

She said that recently the issue of the security guards has been making the news “pretty often”, as has been the case for the past 30 years.

“I certainly do not expect the Opposition, at this stage, to use the issue of the security guards as a political football, or for mere political expediency. I would like to make it clear also that I have reviewed the sectoral presentations made by the previous minister of labour and social security between 2013/2015 and on not one occasion was any mention made of the security guards,” she pointed out.

The minister said, however, that she would be approaching the issue with a “win-win” attitude, rather than resorting to a confrontational tone, which could be prejudicial to social dialogue and damage the relationship enjoyed by the various parties through the Labour Advisory Council.

Robinson also referred to the issues raised publicly about restructuring a joint industrial council (JIC) for the building and construction sector. She said that she will be seeking dialogue with the tripartite bodies who were involved with the JICs, comprising representatives of the ministry, the contractors and the unionised workers, which faded out in the 1980s.

Robinson said that the new minimum rates are the result of the recommendations of the National Minimum Wage Commission, chaired by human resources expert Silvera Castro, after conducting public consultations across the island, and submitting its recommendations to the ministry late last year. The recommendations were eventually approved by the Cabinet this year.

“We have taken into account the stability of the Jamaican economy, the rate of inflation and the economic circumstance of the workers, as well as the ability of the employers to absorb an increase,” the minister noted.

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