Minister ‘not opposed’ to minimum wage

Employment Minister Rolston Anglin said
Friday that he is not philosophically opposed to adopting a minimum wage in the
Cayman Islands.

However, the minister said careful
consideration of the issue would be needed prior to the implementation of a
basic wage rate.

The Cayman Islands has no set basic
minimum wage for workers, although the Labour Law does allow for Cabinet to
create the base pay rate if it wishes following consultation with a committee
that has studied the issue. No government has ever chosen to set that rate.

“Where do I stand on a minimum wage? I’m
not opposed to a minimum wage,” Mr. Anglin said during an interview at his office
on Friday. “But I do want to ensure that the public is clear about what
a minimum wage means.”

The employment minister said he has done
extensive research on the issue since moving a motion in the Legislative
Assembly in 2001 seeking a wholesale review of the Labour Law.

“If you go to the average person on the
street in any country, what they would want…is for a government to set a wage
that is at such a level that it makes people comfortable,” he said. “I don’t
know of any country that has achieved that [with a minimum wage].”

The current basic wage rate set by the
US federal government is US$7.25 per hour. That wage does not apply to
employees who receive tips as part of their income. Mr. Anglin said the US
minimum wage would not allow every person in Cayman to live comfortably.

“Generally, the basic minimum wage is
set to a level in most countries that, for a person to work below that level,
it would shock the conscience of the average person,” the minister said. 

While paying people at a level that is
typically just above the poverty line, Mr. Anglin said there are also other
economic considerations that go with setting a base wage rate.

Stated simply, it can cause inflation.

“We say the minimum wage in Cayman was
going to be X dollars an hour,” Mr. Anglin said. “If the reaction from the
merchants is that they increase their prices to a level that more people in the
economy are made worse off, then, is setting a national minimum wage positive
to the overall economy?”

Moreover, the minister said there are
potentially monstrous problems with policing a set standard wage in a country
that has no income tax rate and that has a large number of service industry
employees who work for tips – and presumably would be exempted from minimum
wage requirements.

“The Chamber of Commerce, quite
conveniently, says they’re not opposed to a minimum wage; what they’d be
interested in is how it will be implemented,” he said.

So, if a company provides housing or
food to its workers, Mr. Anglin questions how, or even if, that would be
considered in calculating a minimum wage rate.

“How is that factored into a national
minimum wage?” he said. “Are we going to have carve-outs? And how is that
bureaucracy managed? Is government going to ensure…that we put the administration
in place to manage that, because you know, if we don’t put the infrastructure
in place, then [the system is] open to abuse.

“This has some serious costs and
policing implications. You think [the Department of Employment Relations] gets
a lot of complaints now? Throw this into the mix. I’m not saying that’s a
reason not to do it, I’m just saying…these are some real implications the
public needs to be aware of.”  Minister
Anglin said he expects a motion to be brought in the next sitting of the Assembly,
which is scheduled to begin today, that will seek the implementation of a
minimum wage. But he said the Labour Law already gives the government the power
to do that and doesn’t require amendment. Furthermore, he said the issue needs
to be studied fully.

“You can’t expect to rush headlong into
what would be a politically expedient move without doing the real work behind
the scenes,” he said.

 

Basic wage recommended

There have been numerous studies on the
possibility of a minimum wage in Cayman, and the previous People’s Progressive
Movement government once promised to implement the wage prior to the party’s
loss in the 2009 general elections. 

The 2008 National Assessment of Living
Conditions strongly recommended the development of the base wage as well.

“The absence of a minimum wage in an
economy like the Cayman Islands creates conditions for open exploitation,
especially of unskilled guest workers who respond to the complimentary push
factors in their home country and the pull factors of the Caymanian economy,”
the assessment stated.

An economist with the Kairi Group of
consultants that carried out the study noted that both the plight of poor
migrant workers and the need to integrate more Caymanians into the workforce
were compelling reasons for a minimum wage.

“If you establish a floor below which
you will not go, it means that you will force employers to look at other ways
of organising production and not depend on the lowest quality and the lowest
level of labour that can be sourced in the international community and the
regional economy,” Mr. Henry said. “The reservation wage amongst Caymanians is
much higher than is paid by the employers … and clearly some are prepared to
put their pride aside and go to the welfare department … rather than work at
wages they regard as sub-normal.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Minimum wage is BAD. Very bad.

    It is human to be greedy. You set a minimum wage, the cost of living will go up. Always!

    Look at Canada, they just upped their minimum wage to 10 dollars an hour. (back in the 90s it was 5 dollars an hour).
    What do you think must happen to say your average cup of coffee from dunkin donuts now? Right, that increase in minimum wage, increases that cup of coffee, or that jug of milk, ect ect ect.

    Trickle down economics.

    Its better to let the market decide how much to pay as a minimum wage.

    if the business offeres 3 dollars and hour, and no one applies. They just raise their wage, or else they have no workers. If they get one or two people for 4 dollars an hour. They will have a high turn over rate, and unhappy employees. Eventually they will find a number that keeps the workers happy, keeps turnover low, and can pass that savings on to you, the consumer.

    NO to minimum wage!

  2. The reality is that many guest workers, specifically those from places like the Phillipines and Jamaica, working in domestic service, are grotesquely exploited. They are paid a wage which comes nowhere near the cost of living, and have no employment protection whatsoever.

    Slavery was abolished generations ago, but it is still happening here

  3. WHAT!!!??? A MINIMUM WAGE WILL HURT SMALL BUSINESSES AND HAVE MANY UNSKILLED WORKERS OUT OF JOBS! CERTAIN EMPLOYERS WONT BE ABLE TO PAY THEM FOR SIMPLE WORKS THAT ARE NOT VALUED ABOVE THE MINIMUM WAGE! SUCH CONDITIONS MAY CAUSE MORE UNEMPLOYMENT AND CRIME IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS!

  4. So, the Minister is not opposed to minimum wage and thats in a philosophical sense. Im willing to bet that the same man is opposed to slavery and ill bet its not philosophically.

    It seems as though its ok to pay people slave wages because they are not fromn here but its ok for people from Jamaica and the Phillipines.

    People have already said it will hurt business. Well thats just tough because if business exists as a result of paying people crap wages then let business go where bad business should go. This type of mentality of justifying legal slavery just doesnt cut it in my world. If prices go up as a result of paying people a wage to bring them at least to the poverty line, well thats just fine by me. Suggest paying a Caymanian this type of wage and I bet that the Nonourable Minister will sing a different tune. How dare people justify this gross indecent treatment by saying its not us, its the Jamaicans and the Philipinos. Doesnt that just make you want to sing the National Song with pride.

    One respondent used Canada as their justification for comparison purposes. The minimum wage in Canada was quoted as 10/hr and im proud to say I am Canadian and we dont support slavery there either. And on that note, check again Mr. Editor and you will find that this country has one of the healthiest economys in the world. We dont do slavery there.

    Before you know it there will be unions here too as politicians and business people are forced to face the harsh reality that there are people who will stand up for their rights as Rosa Parks did a long time ago and paved the way for people to be treated as people and not as pieces of dirt and be forced to live in less than satisfactory conditions. Shame on you Mr. Anglin to say such things as you agree with it in philosophical terms. A cute way of being the politician that you are and make sure you get reelected by those who support your philosophy. Bet if you look, they are business people like yourself. And Big Berd, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  5. To big berd and others: It is terribly sad to see the cold-hearted dispassionate responses of those who would oppose a minimum wage. The argument of trickle-down economics is a smokescreen evidenced by what happens in the real world… in general, business owners will maximize their profit and pay workers as little as they can get away with. There are, of course, exceptions where forward-thinking owners realize that a happier workforce, treated with respect and compassion will actually provide better service and products. But these are the exception, and Cayman, unfortunately has a horrible tradition of mistreating many of its lowest paid workers by withholding benefits and worse. If those in power could for one second walk in the shoes of those people at the low end of the wage scale Im sure it would be a different story. So congratulations to the Minister for allowing a tiny ray of light into this debate. I just hope that one day the people of Cayman will start to live up to a main tenet of their Christian heritage… do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

  6. I am not sure any of you quoting slavery understand very basic economic principles.

    Minimum wage, creates inflation. PERIOD. look at any country thst does not have a minimum wage, and they rarely have inflation (inflation means the cost of everything goes up, and up and up, until the country crashes ie. job loses, etc)

    NO ONE is forced to work. And as a business owner, if i advertise a job for 3 dollars an hour, and someone wants it. Obviously, they are okay with taking that wage. If my wages are set to low. No one will work for me. How plan and simple can you make this?
    If no one works for me, then i must raise my wage, in order to attract workers. But just because i now advertise 5 dollars an hour and I get a few workers. I will have a high employee turn over rate, and less skilled labour. So its in my best interest as a business owner to raise my wage, willingly, to what i feel is an acceptable employee turn over rate.

    But as it is MY business. I should not be mandated by any government to what i can and cannot pay for my workers. Let the free market decide.

    And that will keep inflation away from this island.

    And yes i mentioned Canada in my below example. Watch what happens when everyone in Canada now gets a minimum of 10 dollars and hour. Its not going to take those idiots long to figure out. If everyone is making 10 dollars and hour, and the price of basic goods now goes up in price, because those businesss must pay more for the labour.
    The minimum wage earners are going to find that thier 10 dollars an hour, is not worth 10 dollars an hour anymore. Becuase the cost of EVERYTHING has gone up. So what was the point of raising the minimum wage.

    You want to raise the minimum wage you get. GET ANOTHER JOB, GET EDUCATED. Like everyone else.

  7. I dont wish to get into a debate with Big Berd but if your knowledge of economic theory suggests that minimum wage causes inflation, it tells me all I need to know about your knowledge of economics. Its a little deeper than that but you have suggested it is a simple cause/effect relationship.Is this Keynesian theory or is it one I have not yet studied.

  8. sighhhh.

    No, I am not saying, minimum wage is the only factor, in inflation.

    But by forcing your common labour pool to make more money, the basic goods which they help supply. Are increased. Becuase the cost of labour has increased. Business have to try and make up for that increased costs, by transfering that increased cost to the consumer. Try to deny that.

    And by basic goods, I mean, food, and our other common supplies (ie tvs, microwave ovens,the list is endless…basically anything that is sold where minimum wage workers exist)and thse supplies, supply 100% of everyones basic needs. No one cannot do without these necessities.
    If you raise the cost of this building block, this helps cause inflation.

    Becuase once the basic goods become more costly. The people who make more than minimum wage, have to demand more money in thier wages as well, to keep up with the cost of living which has been increased due to factors such as minimum wage increases.(ie, inflation).

    Which inturn makes the products or services that those who make more than minimum wage, more costly and then businesss are forced to increase THOSE costs to the public …again.

    And all this causes a domino effect. Tell me I am wrong.

    But if you let the market decide the costs of our lowest earners. Who supply the most common and basic necessities of everyones lives. This inturn keeps costs down on basic goods. If you keep prices down. Others do not have to ask for increases in wages, because the basic costs of living do not increase due to minimum wage inception and eventual increases to that minimum wage, which happen over time.

  9. Big Berd,
    You are an unscrupulous, insufferable, and selfish individual. You sound like a white slave plantation owner determined not to emancipate the poor Caymanian people from the work place abuse and being underpaid.

    You must be one of those business owner abusing your staff.

  10. Tiger, I am sorry if what I am saying is the truth. Sure, making meager wages sucks. (I did it at one time, but I busted by butt to get where I am today) BUT NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO WORK FOR THAT WAGE!. Again…tell me I am wrong.

    If you do not like earning less. Concentrate on making more. Better yourself by experience, taking good calculated risks for higher wage jobs, education is another way to go. But no one is forcing anyone to work for a low wage. The free market will balance out every wage. It also happens to the upper wage earners as well. Too many plumbers. And they cant ask for 150 an hour any longer. The market controls this, by supply and demand.
    It can also control low wage earners salaries as well.

    Thats just life. Trying to ask government to offset that balance, will end badly. It always does.

    Just remember, if you make a minimum wage. What happens when all the goods and services increase in costs because it costs more to run the same business, because of minimum wage increases. That minimum wage means nothing anymore, because in the end, even all thier basic necessities become too expensive. And guess what…those minimum wagers, have to ask for more money. And then more money, and more money ad naseum.

    Free market. Its the only way.

  11. Capitalists will always want to hire labour at the cheapest rate possible to preserve their profits. This is called exploitation.
    Every person is entitled (or should be) to a decent wage for the work they do commensurate with the skill required with a minimum set so they can live without having to rely on handouts / benefits etc.
    As for the link between the setting of a minimum wage and inflation, I have never heard such rubbish for ages. Inflation is caused by having too much money in circulation.

    The Beachbum

  12. Actually, Beachbum your wrong

    Definitions of inflation:

    In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time. …

    Hence the Minimum wage discussion is right on target.

    PS. open yur internet thingy, and type that thar sentence in definition of inflation

    You might learn something.

Comments are closed.