BUDGET 2020: Opposition MP calls for increased private sector minimum wage

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Coretta McDonald

Even though it was the former APNU/AFC Administration that failed to finalise the increase of the private sector minimum wage, Opposition Member of Parliament Coretta McDonald is now calling on the new PPP/C Administration to do so.

During her maiden presentation in the National Assembly, McDonald – who is also a longstanding leader of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) – said that workers in the commercial sector are being paid meagre wages and salaries which are inadequate to meet their needs.

“I call on the Honourable Minister of Labour to put in place systems to make the $60,000 agreed upon by the Tripartite Committee as the new minimum wage for the private sector employees,” she urged.

Labour Minister, Joseph Hamilton, last month told the media that the Tripartite Committee would be meeting to continue discussions to increase the minimum wage in the private sector.

Last year, the Tripartite Committee had begun discussions with the aim of raising the private sector minimum wage to $60,000. However, meetings of the Committee had stalled and no firm decision was made as to how to proceed.

The private sector minimum wage has not increased since 2017 when it was raised from the monthly wage from $35,000 to $44,200.

The minimum wage in the public sector currently stands at $70,000.

Meanwhile, MP McDonald called on the Government to provide details regarding where exactly the 50,000 jobs it promised would be allocated.

She noted that while her party supports the Government in finding a solution to address the plight of sugar workers, it must also focus on solving the issues affecting the bauxite sector.

In relation to the oil and gas sector, she said that as a nation Guyana must be better prepared for the challenges that will confront the country.

The MP urged that steps must be taken to ensure that every citizen benefits from Guyana’s oil rich resources.

“As oil and gas continues to be an important part of our development, systems must be put in place so that every group, every region, every NDC, and every single citizens regardless of their creed, colour, or religion must benefit equally from the sector.”

She added that this does not refer to employment alone, but the contracts for the supply of labour, goods and other services which must be distributed equally across ethnic groups in Guyana.