There are currently ongoing talks with the National Tripartite Council to increase the country’s minimum wage, said Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes yesterday.
“There is a discussion at the tripartite council level but there haven’t been any definitive recommendations from the council at this point,” Foulkes told reporters, outside Cabinet.
The minimum wage was
increased from $150 per week to $210 per week in mid-2015.
Before that, the minimum wage hadn’t increased since January 2002.
Following the government’s announcement of the increase in value-added tax (VAT) from 7.5 percent to 12 percent last year, calls for a boost in minimum wage and general salary grew louder.
Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said at the time that while he empathized with workers at the bottom of the economic food chain, the minimum wage would not increase, despite the 60 percent increase in VAT.
“I have heard the cries for increases in minimum wage myself… and I’m probably going to get in trouble here, but when you increase the wage, there’s a cost to that,” he said.
“A lot of people believe that when they get an increase in a wage, that they have actually got an effective increase.
“But the truth of the matter is, if you increase wages in one sector, the business is going to compensate for that. Which means they are going to increase the cost of the product or service that they deliver. That means the consumer, who is buying that service, they are going to have to spend more.
“And then that passes on, because they are also going to demand an increase in wage. It just goes through.”
Turnquest warned that an increase in the minimum wage could have a deleterious impact on the economy.