Minimum wage increase takes effect in November

 Minister of Labour & National Security Steadroy Benjamin. (OBSERVER media photo)
Minister of Labour & National Security Steadroy Benjamin. (OBSERVER media photo)

Trade unions on island are welcoming the November implementation date for the standard minimum wage increase, saying it will go a long way in helping their members who are trying to cope with the harsh economic times.

General Secretary of the Antigua Workers Union David Massiah said the union has been working on the revision of the minimum wage for quite some time.

“We are happy because when you look at the current economic condition, it is clear that this implementation will go a long way in helping those people we defend all the time as workers,” Massiah said.

General Secretary of the Antigua & Barbuda Free Trade Union Stafford Joseph also echoed similar sentiments.

“I am very happy that it will be implemented as a minimum wage, however, even though we were looking forward to a tiered format.”

Labour Minister Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin announced yesterday that the minimum wage will increase from $7.50 to $8.20 in less than two months.

The minister said this is among a number of recommendations to the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Code that will come on stream shortly.

“We have to remember (that) as the cost of living rises, wage earners must have an appropriate increase to maintain their standard of living. We shall be looking at that, and in addition to that there are certain other discussions I don’t not want to disclose, but I shall be looking at with respect to implementing,” the minister said.

The trade unions were a part of the Minimum Wage Advisory Committee that spearheaded the move.

The unions, during the consultation process also recommended a tiered minimum wage system, which would show the differences across the varying labour bands.

Joseph is hoping the tiered system will also be implemented in the near future.

In May, this year, the United Progressive Party administration approved the minimum wage increase from $7.50 to $8.20.

The last minimum wage increase was in 2008.