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News Report: "Liveable wage will just have to wait"

Published by Youri Kemp, Tribune Business Reporter, August 15th, 2022

The business community is waiting on the government to ratify their recommendations on the minimum wage and says that discussions on a liveable wage cannot be had until the minimum wage is “out of the way”.

Peter Goudie, who heads the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s labour division and is its representative on the National Tripartite Council, told Tribune Business the council’s recommendations have been in to the Minister of Labour for a long time now and it is just a “waiting game” on when the government will act on a higher minimum wage for the private sector.

The government has already implemented a higher minimum wage in the public sector, but admitted that doing so for the private sector would be a totally different dynamic and more consultations with the wider business community would be needed.

Mr Goudie said: “Minister Bell said he had to go to cabinet. I’m not sure if it’s this week or the week after. But we’re just waiting on him.”

Keith Bell, Minister for Labour and Immigration, said last week the recommendations of the private sector minimum wage were already before cabinet for it to make a determination.

As for a liveable wage, Mr Bell said in May that a report on a liveable wage would be in to the cabinet and that the government has not backtracked on its promise to deliver on it.

Mr Goudie said, however, “We’re not touching a liveable wage until we get this out of the way. I mean, this minimum wage thing is taking forever.”

He added with regard to a livable wage that it is not even defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). There was an International Labour Conference between May 30, to June the 14 and at that conference it was passed that the ILO would do a study on what is a liveable wage, and people and then they would then excuse me generate that information to countries and they could get it if they want it. “But that’s all that’s been said at that level, because the ILO is made up of all the countries who belong to the United Nations. So it’s a huge convention each year, like 150 countries. So that’s the only thing that came out of the ILC, where they said they would study a liveable wage.”

The University of The Bahamas (UOB) conducted a study on a liveable wage, something Mr Goudie has rejected out of hand as “lacking evidence”. Mr Goudie said: “The University has never produced their findings or methodologies to us so we can review them to make a determination and we have asked for it.

“We just don’t know how they came to their conclusions. So we really can’t take them seriously at this time.”

The UOB study, dated September 30, 2020, concluded that a living wage in New Providence and Grand Bahama is $2,625 and $3,550 per month respectively.

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