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Ferguson supports incremental increase of livable wage

Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Obie Ferguson said yesterday that he hopes to see the government move toward the implementation of a true livable wage for Bahamians, even if it has to be done incrementally.

Ferguson said he agrees with the figures in a 2020 University of The Bahamas study, which concluded that a living wage on New Providence is $2,625 per month, while on Grand Bahama, it is $3,550 per month.

“We can probably stage it over a period,” he said.

“As opposed to coming up with one figure today, we will probably put to the government under the employers that we phase it in.

“So, as the economy becomes stronger, as businesses are able to do much better than they’re doing now, we will be able to, over a period of years, to phase it in.

“And I endorse the figure of the university. I think that was $2,600 or thereabouts and I think it is a little more in Freeport.

“But when we begin the process, we will suggest it be phased in over a period, so it is not so strenuous on businesses and they will be able to do what is required in order for the little man.

“You know, the economy is no economy unless the working people are benefiting and unless the working people are a part of the process.”

Currently, the private sector minimum wage is $210 per week. The public sector minimum wage is $225 per week.

During his budget communication on Wednesday, Prime Minister Philip Davis announced plans to increase the public service minimum wage.

Minister of Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis said yesterday the government is considering increasing it to $250 per week.

Ferguson said he is willing to be patient on the matter.

“What we are prepared to do is to work with the government, to work with employers, and to look and see what makes us unique and what we can do for The Bahamas at this point in time to allow growth and yet at the same time to ensure that the average Bahamian, the working people who trade union leaders represent … that they get a little increase,” he said.

Along with the minimum wage increase, Davis announced a number of new measures, including pay raises for most public officers and retention payments for teachers and nurses.

Ferguson yesterday praised the initiatives as he voiced his optimism that the Davis administration is looking out for workers in The Bahamas

“We welcome the positive move by the government in terms of giving appropriate increases to workers, the public sector workers,” Ferguson said.

“So, we definitely support that.

“… We commend the government and the prime minister for maintaining and ensuring that workers benefit from the system.”

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Rachel Scott

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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