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News Report: No Minimum Wage Increase Without NTC Decision, Says Commerce Director

Written by Youri Kemp, Tribune Business Reporter - Friday August 27th, 2021

A Chamber of Commerce director said no increase to the minimum wage should happen unless it comes through the National Tripartite Council (NTC).

Peter Goudie, who heads the Chamber’s labour committee, told Tribune Business the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has been trying for years to get $40 added on to the national minimum wage, bringing it up from $210 to $250, but no such move should be done unless it is decided by the NTC, which he said the NTC will be reviewing the matter shortly as it is on the agenda after the board’s recent reappointment.

Mr. Goudie was responding to remarks made by PLP leader Philip Davis at a signing ceremony with a number of union leaders, where Mr Davis agreed an increase in the minimum wage would be forthcoming from a PLP government along with an examination of going above the requested $250 and making it closer to a “liveable wage.”

Mr. Goudie added: “The NTC hasn’t had a chance to look at raising the minimum wage yet, but we will do that with proper research and not because somebody wants something at a certain number.

“The last time we raised the minimum wage we went through a thorough procedure where we used data from the department of statistics, we looked at the cost of living increase, we looked at all types of things and that is how we did the last one.”

Mr. Davis also said: “We are not satisfied that $250 may be a liveable wage. Where we are now, people are living pay cheque to pay cheque and still carrying overdraft and still owing while they are doing so. We’re hoping at the end of the day to move this country to where we can accept what is a liveable wage and agree that is our obligation and duty to at least let people work in dignity to live from what they have earned.”

Questioning the premise of a liveable wage, Mr Goudie said he never could find someone who could explain what exactly a liveable wage was.

The University of The Bahamas examined the possibility of implementing a liveable wage in a study they conducted in 2020 where the university found that the living wage for New Providence is $2,625 a month or $657 a week and in Grand Bahama it is $3,550 a month or $887.50 a week, figures that have already been slammed by private sector proponents, including Mr Goudie, as outrageous and undoable.

The “living wage” by standard definition is the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their basic needs. This is not the same as a subsistence wage, which refers to a biological minimum. Needs are defined to include food, housing, and other essential needs such as clothing. The UB study outlined their parameters to meet this criteria in their study.

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