Director of Labour John Pinder said yesterday that meetings with the National Tripartite Council would be held today to determine whether recommendations to increase minimum wage would be accepted and put into place.
Early last month, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that “the minimum wage that government pays its staff, that will be elevated”.
However, Pinder said that although the announcement was made from government, recommendations still have to be made to the Tripartite Council for any changes to be effected.
“The discussion has not really commenced officially yet, it’s just been thrown out there,” Pinder said yesterday.
He added, “So what I would do, at our first meeting – which should be on Thursday of this week, tomorrow – at our first meeting, I would mention and explain to them to correct the statement that was made, and I would now cause there to be some discussion starting on that.
“So, I’ll have to raise it as a board member that we need to start to have discussions on it.”
Pinder also said: “The chairman of the Tripartite Council will have to determine if he’s going to put a committee in place or not, that sort of thing. As I say, that’s the protocol. Normally the protocol is, the chairman will appoint a committee within the council, from the directors, to look into it and we’ll start to do our research.
“As I say, I hope that will be the protocol; I can’t say that he would do it. He might not even entertain it. But I believe he would.”
He stressed that the discussion should include whether there should be a minimum wage or a liveable wage, as “it is important to keep people above the poverty line”.
“And those who are seeing themselves now going below that, or who are below that, we need to bring them up to some level just to restore and ensure that we can maintain the middle class sector in The Bahamas. We’ve got to look at these things,” Pinder said.
He added, “I would not propose an amount. I’ll just say I know it was between $300 and $350 that we had some discussions on years ago. Now, bearing in mind when we first started discussions was when, that was even in the absence of VAT (value-added tax)…
“And another discussion is, if we say a minimum wage of $350, does the tipping industry look at the base salary plus the tips to make that $350? Or do they want the tipping industry’s salary to be $350 plus tips?
“So, it’s a lot of discussions have to take place, because if your base salary along with your tips brings you up to $350, then that’s probably a liveable wage. So, all these things we have to discuss to look at it properly.
“But I think it’s important for an employee to be able to take home at least $300 to $350 a week, especially if you have little children and everything. But if your tips have to bring that up then we have to bring that consideration.”