Online poll: Minimum $8 wage most popular

If Cayman were to introduce a minimum wage, more than two thirds of people who took part in a Caymanian Compass online poll felt it ought to be at least $8 an hour. 

Of the 528 people who responded, 182 voted for the option of $10 an hour, constituting 34.5 percent of the entire vote. Just behind, with 174 votes (32.9 percent) was the group that felt $8 an hour was fair. The lesser option of $5 an hour was selected by 68 respondents, or 12.9 percent, with 40 voters (7.6 percent) reckoning that over $10 an hour was the best way forward. 

There should be no minimum wage, declared 64 people, or 12.1 percent of the total. 

Respondents held a variety of views on the subject. 

One of those who selected $10 an hour, for example, pointed to “the extremely high cost of living in Cayman,” as a reason. “[I]t is unconscionable to employ people below this level of income,” the respondent wrote, adding, “One cannot survive (legally) on less than this, even with two incomes in a family.” 

One person pointed out that many of the lower-paid jobs relied on gratuities, particularly in the service industry. “Tips should not be allowed to count as part of the wage,” the writer said. 

One person who voted for $8 an hour blasted unnamed employers who they considered to be dealing in bad practice. “Many employers need to be regulated,” the respondent raged. “With their vile work conditions, paultry salaries and mansion houses. Even slave masters gave their slaves a day off per week!!” 

Other commenters felt that a higher minimum wage would have different economic effects. “The higher the wage, the less people can be hired, unless you put up your prices to cover overheads, [and this] will counteract the wage increase.” 

Another commenter envisaged a two-tier rollout for the idea. “I say $5 because it will transition the community (consumers, businesses, employers, employees) to be prepared to the increases in consumer cost, the possible decrease in sales etc until people get somewhat accustomed to the “new” life style,” the writer noted. “Then increase to the ideal after a few years to $8-$10 (depending on what our cost of living looks like. Though it could only be expected to increase significantly as salaries increase.)” 

Another commenter agreed, writing, “$5 as the introduction with 2-5 year increase on the amount would be fiscally sound for the entire country. Expected from a salary increase would be a general cost of living increase in areas such as grocery stores which will attempt to pass the additional cost to the end consumer. Therefore, a gradual increase in salaries so that a sudden and damaging increase in groceries or ‘sticker shock’ will not occur.” 

Many of those who voted for higher than $12 an hour wrote comments along similar lines; that they were unsure how anybody could afford to live in Cayman on less. 

“Cayman needs a minimum wage of at least $15 per hour,” summed up one person. “The cost of living in this country is so high that I think it’s pointless to have a minimum wage lower than that.” 

The people who felt that there should be no minimum wage at all were mostly concerned with economic theory. One person summed it up thusly, “Market forces will reward the best talent.” 

Another person was equally succinct, saying, “The government should not interfere in employment.” 

More theory was espoused by another person who selected the “no minimum wage” option: “The labor market comes up with a price at which people are willing to work.” 

A selector of the same option responded, “You would tank the tourism sector,” adding, “Most people don’t realize those lower hourly wages come with participation in grat pools. All countries that presently have minimum wages are struggling to survive. Allow free enterprise for a successful business model.” 

Next week’s poll question 

To what extent should companies and financial entities be required to make their ownership public? 

  1. The information should be completely open and accessible to members of the general public. 
  2. Only regulatory and tax authorities and law enforcement agencies should have access to this information. 
  3. It should only be released if a court orders it. 
  4. It’s confidential information and should not be released to anyone. 
  5. Other (explain). 

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