Ministry To Establish A Wage Commission

March 4, 2019

The Ministry of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports today [March 4] announced that it will shortly be setting up a Wage Commission to consult with key stakeholders regarding the implementation of a living/minimum wage.

This follows the tabling of a report by the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee [JSC] last year on The Establishment of a Living/Minimum Wage Regime which listed the creation of a Wage Commission as one of its recommendations.

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The Commission will be made up of a body of experts, with social partners from the Trade Union Congress and employer groups. The Commission will function as an independent authority, responsible for implementing the living wage rate. The Commission will be charged with establishing the regulatory regime around the implementation of the statutory wage scheme based upon best practice.

The Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports Lovitta Foggo said this Throne Speech initiative is a priority for her Ministry.

“Legislation is currently in the works to enable the creation of the Commission,” said Minister Foggo. “The implementation of a minimum/living wage is something we are progressing.

“We want to remind the public that the living wage conversation will soon be coming to them. To that end, there will be three upcoming town hall meetings hosted by members of the JSC and others in the community, to provide more information and conversation on the topic to the general public. Details of the meetings will be announced shortly.

“The creation of a living wage isn’t unique to Bermuda,” Minister Foggo explained. “Most modern, developed countries have a minimum/living wage regime. In fact, approximately more than 90% of countries designated as International Labour Organization [ILO] member states currently have a statutory wage scheme of some sort. It is deemed unconscionable in today’s society to have people working two or three jobs, who are still barely able to put food on the table.

“People are trapped in a poverty cycle and it trickles down to every aspect of life; your family life is affected, your health is affected, society is affected – there are social costs to everyone. The chronic stress that accompanies poverty has been linked to a wide array of adverse conditions, from maternal health problems to tumor growth.

“US studies have linked higher minimum wages to decreases in low birth-weight babies, a reduction in child-neglect reports, fewer unmet medical needs among low-skilled workers, lower rates of teen alcohol consumption and declines in teen births. When people live hand-to-mouth, even a small setback can quickly spiral into a major life upset. For example, an unexpected medical bill could lead to that person being unable to pay their rent which, in turn, may lead to them being evicted and then finding themselves homeless.

“Considerable evidence-based documents have outlined the many benefits realised by both the employers and employees in countries where a minimum/living wage have been instituted. Modest wage increases have a profound impact on people’s wellbeing and happiness, both in the workplace and at home.

“Best practices speak to this and the overwhelming evidence has shown that it is a win-win to have a living wage. The great Nelson Mandela famously said, ‘In this new century, millions of people in the world’s poorest countries remain imprisoned, enslaved and in chains. They are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free.’

“In short, we need to stop the exploitation of our workers. A living wage regime will place Bermuda where it should be – on equal footing with other countries.”

The mandate of the JSC was to research the feasibility of the establishment of a minimum/living wage regime, and make recommendations to the House of Assembly. The JSC concluded that establishing a statutory wage floor to support those who are economically insecure is vitally necessary.

An excerpt from the JSC report said: “Incipient poverty, the erosion of the middle class and growing despair have led to charities and assistance programmes of various types being overwhelmed as growing numbers of Bermudians, including children, do without the economic necessities required to lead productive and fulfilling lives.”

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Comments (18)

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  1. What? says:

    Minimum wage? What about minimum performance and being on time for your job! Unbelievable how people feel they are entitled to something they don’t work hard for!

    • gustav says:

      forget it , many Bermudians don’t want a job , they just want a pay check

      • Joe Bloggs says:

        gustav, that is both untrue and offensive. I am a hard working Bermuda as is my wife and our children and most of our extended family.

        • question says:

          You will all be fine then. But anyone who isn’t contributing value to earn the elevated levels of pay will LOSE their job.

      • sage says:

        It isn’t Bermudians pushing for a “universal basic income”, Finland is trying it out.

  2. And Another One says:

    Great, more committees so we can begin to think about maybe starting to do something.

  3. Uh Lala says:

    Bermudians don’t wanna work. They just want free handouts.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Another offensive and untrue comment.

  4. Toodle-oo says:

    Seeing that the number of people who would be affected and the occupations they hold have never been identified it could come as a tremendous shock to all the people crying out for this if the largest percentage of beneficiaries were foreign workers !

    • Adklee says:

      Totally agree, this will be the case at first. But there is a long-standing belief that one of the reasons Bermudians don’t take some jobs is because the pay is grossly insufficient. Hopefully, some parity can be achieved if a minimum wage is instituted. Then you will see more Bermudians willing to work certain jobs.

    • newperspective says:

      There are a number of occupations identified. The Department of Statistics produces its report annually and positions filled, or unfilled. Just to name a few, pot washers, care-givers,room maids etc.If a position is filled by a guest worker, Bermudian, or a martian, makes no difference! It’s about the position having a legal livable/minimum hourly wage.

  5. Joe Bloggs says:

    “We want to remind the public that the living wage conversation will soon be coming to them.”

    Yes, just like the Corporation of Hamilton and St. George consultation period did!

  6. me says:

    it should be at least $30 per hour

    • What says:

      Nah let’s go for $100 per hour and call it another tax

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      $60,000 per year? How do you arrive at that number for a janitor or kitchen porter (pot washer)?

      I was thinking $52,000 per year ($26 per hour) as that is what the PLP Government is offering summer interns to go to London or Brussels or Washington to play

    • question says:

      $60 an hour. Should result in about 3,000 jobs lost forever.

  7. Jus' Wonderin' says:

    This will hurt the majority more then they think bra! People will be laid off because of this and cause people to lose jobs, it sounds good but it’s not!

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      I agree. There is already quite a lot of financial pressure on local businesses with all the new taxes. Increasing wages by dictating minimum pay rates will only increase that financial pressure and cause businesses to seek to do more with few people/less payroll burden.

      And now it occurs to me, is Government’s projected surplus for the current financial year based on increased wages but with the same number of workers? If so, I think the underlying assumptions may be drastically incorrect.