‘Establish A Liveable Wage Standard In Bermuda’

May 4, 2016

“The Bermuda Trade Union Congress [BTUC] strongly believes that is it time for Bermuda to establish and implement a liveable wage standard in Bermuda,” Jason Hayward said.

“As the economy begins to stabilize, the call for a living wage is timely as it is a necessary component of sustainable economic recovery.

BTUC Bermuda May 4 2016

“The establishment of a living wage will:

  • Enable workers to live decent lives
  • Enable working families to have sufficient income to cover reasonable costs
  • Reduce income inequalities in Bermuda
  • Reduce the financial stress on families
  • Aid in the country’s economic development
  • Increase the Government’s tax revenues

“There is no generally accepted definition of what a living wage is, however, its aim is to provide a worker with a fair wage that will enable a person to meet basic needs and maintain an adequate standard of living within their community,” continued Mr Hayward.

“A living wage is fundamentally different from that of a minimum wage. A living wage takes into consideration the cost of essential items such as food, transportation and housing and serves as an informal benchmark whereas a minimum wage is a legally enforceable minimum level of pay.

“Throughout the world, there has been a growing recognition for the need to establish of a living wage. The international community and, in particular, the International Labour Organization [ILO] acknowledge a living wage is as a human right.

“In his research paper “Estimating a Living Wage: A Methodological Review “, Richard Anker, retired Senior Economist of the ILO highlighted the following:

The international community clearly considers living wage as a human right.

The following international conventions and declarations recognize the need for workers to receive a living wage: United Nations Declaration of Human Rights [1948], American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man [Organization of American States, 1948], European Charter [Council of Europe, 1961], United Nations International Covenant on Economic and Social Cultural Rights [1966] and the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Additional Protocol [Organization of American States, 1988]. According to Article 23 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights [1948]:

Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity

“In addition:

The ILO also considers a living wage as a human right in the sense that living wage is included in ILO major Declarations that take on the weight of rights. Living wage is mentioned in the 1919 ILO Constitution, the 1944 ILO Philadelphia Declaration Concerning the Aims and Purposes of the International Labor Organisation, and the 2008 ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization. Living wage is also included in the 2006 ILO Declaration on Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy. The Preamble to the ILO’s Constitution goes so far as to say that better working conditions that include a living wage are required to ensure “universal and lasting peace”.

“Whereas universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice;

“And whereas conditions of labour exist involving such injustice hardship and privation to large numbers of people as to produce unrest so great that the peace and harmony of the world are imperilled; and an improvement of those conditions is urgently required; as, for example, by … the provision of an adequate living wage.

“Support for a living wage dates back centuries with Popes, NGO’s, renowned economists and world leaders all having contributed to the debate in support for the need of a living wage. In May 2014, the BTUC along with the People’s Campaign for Equality, Jobs and Justice presented a manifesto to the Government and Opposition which called for the establishment of a living wage.

“The inclusion of a living wage in the People’s Campaign Manifesto was a direct result of listening to the concerns of employed persons within our community who found it increasingly difficult to provide necessities for themselves and their families.

“The high cost of living in Bermuda makes it extremely difficult for lower-income families in Bermuda. Employment statistics reveal that there are persons in Bermuda who are employed full time and currently make under $8 an hour. This equates to an annual income of approximately $15,000.

“While the establishment of a living wage would not affect the majority of Bermuda’s working population, it has the potential to have a major impact on a number of occupational categories including cashiers, air freight/passenger agents, nannies, bar porters, chambermaids, bus boys, child-care workers, cleaners, tailors, and, pump persons.

“The median income for these occupational categories currently range between $20,000 and $30,000 per annum. This statistic is particularly concerning as it reveals that half of the workers in these occupational categories make below that range.

“Many will argue that the establishment of a living wage will have an adverse effect on jobs. The data, however, suggests that modest increases in the wages of lower income earners will not negatively impact jobs numbers.

For example, the US Department of Labour reported:

In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market. Research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth, and providing some help on the jobs front.

“Additionally, studies have found that employers who incorporate a living wage in their establishments can expect:

  • Improved level of service
  • Improved employees opinion and commitment to their role
  • Improved productivity
  • Increased motivation and morale
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Substantial positive impacts on recruitment and retention

“As a result of the immigration protest in March 2016, the Government committed to having dialogue on a living wage. The Labour Advisory Council will be the forum in which the establishment of a living wage for Bermuda will be discussed.

“The BTUC strongly supports having this dialogue as it is a step in the right direction for Bermuda,” concluded Mr Hayward.

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Comments (28)

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  1. Thinker says:

    Please make this happen so that more people can support themselves, families and the community.
    Bring parents home after 5 (not off to a 2nd job) so that children can be raised by them and not others.

    • Spotty says:

      What’s a pump person?

    • Nanny Pat says:

      So here’s what’s going to happen if we have a living wage: all of these “horrible foreigners” that take these pot washer jobs that we won’t take will now be making more money to “send home” as you all claim. Bermudians aren’t going to take these so called “beneath them” jobs no matter how much they pay so where does this get you?

      And with a living wage, the price of food at this restaurant where the foreigners wash pots goes up to pay those higher wages so less people eat there.

      Happy now?

  2. hmmm says:

    Was Jason not listening. So many economists and others explaining the negative effects at that meeting.

    How about instead halving union dues. That would increase monies to the workers without having the negative effects described by the economists.
    Surely the BSPU and BIU don’t need all that money.

    • Onion says:

      Of course they need it, how else are they going to pay their executives big bucks but fail to fund their Strike Fund?

    • sage says:

      Those “economists” need to be docked to address the huge disparity between their pay and the pay of those who actually work, (force x distance).

    • BLOW IN says:


  3. frank says:

    what holds some people from getting ahead in life is having to many dam children too dam young and then they want everyone to feel sorry for

  4. serenegti says:

    Of course Hayward can see no downside at all. His members have guaranteed jobs for life however much they are paid and however useless they are. The rest of the economy, on the other hand, has to live in the real world.

  5. paperboy says:

    I think these types of conversations are important in Bermuda.

    We lack the data to fully understand how many people are impacted by low wages and we are often unwilling to shift our standard of living to assist others. We rely on inefficient modes of charity and funding that keep many in a cycle of poverty and vulnerability. Simply feeling sorry for those less fortunate is not a meaningful solution.

    Let’s have a conversation about the total impact of power, privilege and policy in Bermuda.

    What if we began supporting each other through universal health care for all Bermudians?

    Then we can begin looking at minimum standards of living or minimum income levels that allow all Bermudians to live with dignity and respect.

    • PBanks says:

      Careful, you’re about to get labelled a socialist(!) for the mere suggestion.

  6. San George says:

    We are a capitalistic country. We have “Haves” and “Have Mores”. I am okay with that. This is preferable to all of us being “Have Less”. Cut the civil service and let’s get this debt under control or we are all in trouble before long.

  7. Family Man says:

    Why stop at $30,000 or $50,000.

    I think we should all be paid a million dollars then in a couple of years we can retire and spend more time with our families. Money won’t be an issue anymore when everyone’s a millionaire.

    Lets just pass a law that the minimum annual wage in Bermuda is now $1,000,000.

  8. Onion says:

    If the Unions want to start citing the ILO perhaps they should take note of the ILO’s notice periods before striking and definition of an “essential” service. They really won’t like the outcome of actually following the ILO.

  9. smh says:

    When are members of the BPSU going to realize that this man is openly campaigning for a leadership role in the PLP while they pay his salary. Again, what does this have to do with the union?

    • Deshaun says:

      I hope de do he looks so sexy and hot not harsh de eye

  10. Frank says:

    i bet they are waitstaff. Did you ask them what they take home in gratuities on top of that.

    • Ringmaster says:

      Or have all living costs paid for, so this is pocket money. Let’s have the full facts, not cherry picked to raise emotions.

  11. Concerned Bermudian Lady says:

    Why not simply get all those rich people who make more than say 50 thousand a year – to donate ther extra money into a pot. I mean its not like they need it is it? I mean how much do they really need right? Then all that money can be given to us poor people who don’t make hardly anything at all. I mean it snot fair is it? I have five clidren and none of the fathers give anything – and there’s four of them.

    I mean why pay all those foreigners all that money? Take it away from them befor ethey get it and let me have it so I can at least get my children new iphones. They all have the old ones that dont even have gps on them.

    Too many rich people get paid too much and we needa minimum wage of at least 25 or 3v3n 30 dollars. I even buy tvs for my kids rooms.

    • Anbu says:

      Lady if u make only 50k a year you are by no means rich. Not even close. Up that by at least 40k

      • Anbu says:

        Ahh twas sarcasm. My sincerest apologies lmao

  12. real Deal says:

    A start to fixing Bermuda is to Diversify are trading partners. DR Brown had the right Idea when he created a trade deal with India.

    Another good idea is to make ourselves into hub for the west side. we get good from china store them here and we send them to the west side.

    we need cargo ships and men to ail them.

    we can also create fuel up stations so that ships can sale faster and just fill up at out station.

  13. wahoo says:

    What’s in your wallet?

  14. Triangle Drifter says:

    Bermudians don’t have a problem with the high cost of living. They have a problem with living high.

    Look around. All that rainbow coloured hair does not come cheap. Don’t even talk about the nails. Then there is the clothing. Can’t be seen in anything but whoever is the designer of the month you know.

    What! Drive a small inexpensive car?? No way that is going to happen. You just know that the perfectly round wheels that it came with are not good enough. And we must have the high performance low profile tires to go with them.

    For many years the unions, particularly the BPSA, has been granted above cost of living wage increases. Now that the Government is broke & can no longer pay them, they are squealing poverty.

  15. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    You all left out the professionals ; Doctors; Lawyers; Pharmacists; Architects; Engineers; Bankers ETC from the debate.

    Am I any less professional if I paint a roof or clean a tank, may be they should do their own work.

    The law of economics says, pay less than you earn to another.

  16. Deshaun says:

    I think all yung people shud have a cell phun just sayin free

  17. Gertrude says:

    Sadly, we are going the other way. If you look at the new investment in foreigner owned, Bermudian fronted businesses – a new retail shop in Dockyard, the two hotel projects that have broken ground, they are all predicated on cheap (likely imported) labor which will in the end only bring down existing wages and living standards. This so-called investment is not the way forward – Government should be focussing on getting banks and other lenders lending to Bermudian businesses, which they mostly have not been doing these past seven years.

  18. makes me sad says:

    My mom (a bermudian) has been working in the same well established retail store for over 15 years with no increase in salary ever!! Her salary barely covers medical, pension etc. Take home pay is peanuts and doesn’t cover even food and electricity.

    Stop saying that this only applies to foreigners or irresponsible people with big families. And it’s not just wait staff either(who earn gratuities and may have accommodation). A living wage in our retail stores has been needed for a long time!!!!!

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