Don’t consult with employers on minimum wages

Dear Editor,

Here is a rhetorical question to the next government of The Bahamas: why on earth would a fair and rational government consult with the Chamber of Commerce or employers’ representatives in setting minimum wages?

Minimum wages should reflect and match the cost environment in which workers live and operate. If they do not, then national living standards stagnate and regress as all other costs (fuel, electricity, food, rent and endless consumer taxes and “user fees”) continue to rise. All of us (employers included) suffer when that happens.

Minimum wages should not reflect the needs of any particular business person or lobby group, whose interests are primarily with boosting their own profits – including at the expense of employees.

If any businessperson cannot operate in an environment where wages are not suppressed in relation to the consumer price index, then he or she should simply be replaced in the market by better businessmen (i.e. by businessmen prepared to adjust to a slimmer income gap between employer and employee than presently exists in The Bahamas).

That is called competition, which is claimed to be a sacred tenet of capitalism. Yet it somehow feels that only one side of the equation is expected to endure its effects.

While it is the job of every government to look out for the interests of the population as a whole (including the economy), it is NOT the job of any government to protect the interests of the “business community” as presently constituted. That is called collusion.

Andrew Allen 

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