Current National Minimum Wage inadequate – FITUG

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See full statement from the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG):

Over the weekend several news outlets reported on President Irfaan Ali’s comments on the long-outstanding improvement to the national minimum wage (NMW). From what we saw, Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton has been mandated to conduct wide consultations before presenting a paper to Cabinet.

Though the President did not outline whatform the consultation would take nor whom would be consulted, he did indicate, according to the June 05, 2022 Stabroek News, that “…the private sector had views on this issue.” Indeed, we do recollect the private sector’s views. The December 16, 2021, Guyana Chronicle quoted Private Sector Commission Chairman, Mr Paul Cheong as saying “We had a meeting… and we agreed on the $60,000. A lot of the companies already pay that and more as the minimum wage, and employees need to be comfortable. For those who are below it, it will be a good boost to their income.

It’s small, but people need to be comfortable to perform properly enough”. Arising from that decision, the private sector’s representatives on the National Tripartite Committee (NTC) would have expressed their support for the improvement of the NMW in January, this year. The NTC comprises representatives of the labour movement, the business sector, and the Government offering, in our view, an adequate forum for the exchange of views on this matter.

We, therefore, remain perplexed that despite the unanimous support that the improvement of the NMW remains essentially stuck. We are convinced that the present NMW can hardly be seen as adequate. Even the Government through its recently launched part-time jobs programme has taken cognizance of this reality. According to the May 25, 2022, Stabroek News the part-time employees “…will be required to work for 10 days per month, earning approximately $40,000.” This contrasts with persons at the NMW working for no less than 20 days to earn $44,200.

The FITUG nonetheless seeks to play an active role in the consultations to be convened by Minister Hamilton. Given our massive economic expansion undoubtedly there is a need to ensure the current rising tide lifts all boats and that Guyanese workers can seek to have a decent living. Indeed, President Ali himself has committed to such and, we believe, at this time the NMW should be revised speedily.