The National Tripartite Council will make recommendations to the government on increasing the minimum wage before the end of the year, Director of Labour John Pinder said yesterday.
“We will soon make some recommendations on that,” said Pinder, who is a member of the council.
Asked what he meant by soon, Pinder said, “I believe early in the new year, maybe even before the end of the new year the council should, as a matter of priority, give the minimum or the livable wage a priority.”
This follows recent comments by Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes who said there are currently ongoing talks with the council about increasing minimum wage.
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.
However, 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.
Yesterday, Pinder said the government needs to think beyond increasing the minimum wage and instead consider introducing a livable wage.
Pinder also said the council plans to draft a productivity paper which will determine “how we should move forward” on the issue of minimum wage.
He said that paper, which is being drafted by former Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation CEO Edison Sumner, is expected to be completed by early November.
Earlier this month, Turnquest said the government has not given any “detailed consideration” to increasing the minimum wage.
“We, of course, know that there has been some increase in the cost of living as a result of the increase in the value-added tax, and the inflation rate shows that, but the trend also shows that that is evening out as we expect and that over time it will start to normalize,” Turnquest said.