Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
The plea by some residents for government to raise the minimum wage continues to be made and government once again has assured that it is looking into to the issue.
The minimum wage in the BVI is $4 per hour.
During the National Democratic Party (NDP) radio programme on Monday evening, August 20, Premier and Minister for Finance, Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith was asked what the new government has done about the issue thus far.
"Would you [Premier] work for the minimum wage; would you settle for it," a caller asked.
Premier Smith said firstly persons must understand that the minimum wage is exactly what it is; the minimum wage.
"They [employers] cannot pay below that, but it is not expected that employers would pay the minimum wage. It is expected that they would pay a reasonable return for peoples labour and that could vary greatly and if you look at the salaries that exist in the BVI they vary quite a lot and so that is not what is expected. And even if persons start off at the minimum wage it is expected that as good employees, employers would look at increasing the wage on a regular basis."
However, he added that the same token it is important that we do look at what the minimum wage is and I know the recent Labour Code allows the Minister of Labour to review the labour situation in the country and determine whether the minimum wage needs to increase and I am sure he is going to be looking into to it."
In February, Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Hon. Kedrick Pickering said that he believes employers who are currently offering employees the minimum wage are being unfair.
The Minister made the comments while responding to questions during a meeting held at the Catholic Community Centre on Virgin Gorda.
According to Minister Pickering, the minimum wage as it stands is a burning issue, but the new Labour Code gives the Labour Minister the authority to set up committees that will help enhance the work of the code and one of those committees that can be set up is a committee to review the minimum wage.
Minister Pickering said that the former Labour Minister had already started setting up a committee to examine the minimum wage.
"I think in the not too distant future our Government will be looking into it [minimum wage] to see how best we can adjust it, but I will go further to say that any employer right now who is paying somebody minimum wage is really being a little unfair. I mean if you have somebody working for you right now and you are paying them minimum wage, you are being really a little unfair to them in today's context, but we will find a way to deal with the issue as time unfolds," Minister Pickering stated.
Prior to last year's election, now Minister for Health and Social Development, Ronnie Skelton had explained that at times when someone wants to do good by the people they are trying to help, they end up harming those same persons and that is what an NDP Government wants to prevent.
"You take the minimum wage and push it up - let's say $7.00, so what do you think is going to happen to everything else; because something else will happen to everything else. You are making $4.00 or $5.00 an hour now; I am making $7.00. So if you push you up to $7.00, you immediately have to push me up and then you have to push everybody up and everybody get a wage increase. So the very supermarkets and shops that you are going to buy stuff, their wage cost has gone up and they are going to reflect it in the prices because it's an additional cost they have to pay for," he had lamented.
Hon. Skelton then added that the intention of the NDP administration is to find ways to ensure that the people who are making minimum wage are able to live comfortably.