Ja minimum wage increasing

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Effective Monday, January 28, the National Minimum Wage will be increased from $3,200 per 40-hour work week to $3,700.

This follows Cabinet’s approval of the recommendations of the Minimum Wage Advisory Commission for a 15.6 per cent increase.

The minimum wage for industrial security guards moves from $4,700 to $5,500.

Minister of Labour and Social Security Pearnel Charles said the commission’s recommendations were informed by the current rate of inflation, the difficulty faced by minimum-wage earners to meet their basic needs, and the implications for those who have to pay the increased wages.

Leader of the Opposition, Portia Simpson Miller, commended Mr. Charles for increasing the minimum wage, but said that the increase was inadequate. She made an impassioned plea to the minister to increase the amount by a further $300, moving the total sum to $4,000.

In response to Mrs. Simpson Miller’s request for a further increase, Mr. Charles said he would meet with her to discuss the matter.

He also suggested that the Opposition Leader bring a motion outlining her request to the next sitting.

The Opposition Leader and Mr. Charles urged employers who are able to pay more than the minimum wage to do so.

Mr. Charles told his parliamentary colleagues that there were significant increases in the penalties for employers who failed to comply with the orders relating to the National Minimum Wage and the minimum wage for industrial security guards

But executive director of the Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF), Jacqueline Coke-Lloyd, said the Ministry of Labour had acted disrespectfully by giving employers and workers only three days’ notice about the new minimum-wage package.

“It is disturbing that it (the new figures) takes place on Monday, really disrespectful. We must be mindful of employers with payroll difficulties and how people budget,” Mrs. Coke-Lloyd said.