$60,000 national minimum wage approved by Cabinet

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The Guyana Government has approved the recommendation for the national minimum wage to be raised to $60,000 monthly, President Dr Irfaan Ali has informed.

Announcing Cabinet’s decision on Thursday, he shared, “the Cabinet has agreed with the recommendation of the tripartite group and we are in support of the minimum wage that is going to be established, that is the $60,000 minimum wage. We are friends of the workers. We are not enemies of the workers. We want what is best for the workers.”

Recently, Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton was mandated to conduct wide consultations before presenting a paper to Cabinet. This was ordered by Ali, who took into account views of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) last December, agreeing on an increase to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) from $44,200 to $60,000.

Arising from that decision, the Private Sector’s representatives on the National Tripartite Committee (NTC) expressed their support for the increase in the NMW in January this year. The NTC comprises representatives of the labour movement, the business sector, and the Government. This, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) noted, is an adequate forum for the exchange of views on this matter.

Shortly after the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) took office in August 2020, Minister Hamilton had announced the increase in the Private Sector minimum wage to $60,000.

However, while an order to this effect was made, there was no timeline set for its enforcement. Its implementation was postponed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on businesses.

When the country began opening up last year, the talks resumed. The Labour Minister had been re-engaging the Private Sector on enforcing the increase.

The public sector minimum wage currently stands at $70,000, and even with this increase for Private Sector workers, their minimum salary would still be less. The Private Sector’s minimum wage was last increased in 2017, from an hourly rate of $202 to $255, taking the monthly wage from $35,000 to $44,200.

Minister Hamilton had previously explained that this increase to $60,000 would impact about 10 per cent of Private Sector workers, who are currently being paid below that wage level.

Last year, when Government announced a seven per cent retroactive salary increase for all public sector workers, it sparked conversations about pay in the Private Sector. In fact, FITUG had called on private businesses to follow suit in order to attract and retain their workforce.