Minimum wage urged

Employment Minister Alden McLaughlin has said he hopes a consultant’s review of employment practices in Cayman recommends a single across-the-board minimum wage rate for the islands.

Mr. McLaughlin

Mr. McLaughlin

The review isn’t expected to be complete until next month.

Exactly what that rate would be isn’t known, and the rate is not expected to be recommended in management consultant Samuel Goolsarran’s report.

However, Mr. McLaughlin said last week that a single minimum wage should apply across the islands, no matter what wage rate is finally set.

‘My view is that it is far too complicated, and it is unlikely that it will ever happen if we try to go sector by sector,’ Mr. McLaughlin said. ‘You can’t try to implement a minimum wage for lawyers and accountants and bankers and clerks. It just becomes too complicated and too difficult to enforce.’

‘What we have to agree, I believe, is a wage that represents the minimum amount that any person can lawfully work for.’

Cayman does not have a minimum wage, although the Labour Law (2001 revision) gives the Governor the ability to establish a Minimum Wage Advisory Committee to investigate the issue.

Mr. McLaughlin has previously said the convoluted process used in the law to reach a consensus on a minimum wage is part of the reason why it’s never happened.

Mr. Goolsarran’s review will deal with more than just whether Cayman should have a minimum wage. He’s expected to organise a restructuring of the Department of Employment Relations.

The consultant is also reviewing the Labour Law with an eye toward changing some outdated provisions.

It seems likely there will be efforts on behalf of the Ministry of Employment to establish a minimum wage in Cayman, whether the consultant review recommends it or not.

‘I am absolutely convinced that we must have a minimum wage,’ Mr. McLaughlin said. ‘I’m not expecting the entire business community to agree with my posture on this.’

The People’s Progressive Movement government has not taken an official position on the minimum wage.

‘Many Caymanians just are unable to work for $3 and $3.20 an hour,’ he said. ‘So they stay unemployed…while we bring in people from the Philippines and from India who will live together in large numbers…and struggle along on $3.20 an hour.’

‘Caymanians just have never lived that way and quite justifiably refuse to live that way.’

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