By Theresa Goodwin
Serious consideration will be given to raising the minimum wage in Antigua and Barbuda, which is currently pegged at $8.20 per hour, to ensure that every citizen is able to earn a salary or wage to maintain a decent standard of living.
Labour Minister Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin gave that undertaking yesterday and confirmed that talks are currently underway with several partners to look at the issue.
“It is being discussed at this very minute; we intend to bring in the National Labour Board and have meetings with the different organisations, and together we shall get a wage that is reasonable under the circumstances,” Benjamin said.
He also stated that the minimum wage in the twin island state is relatively higher when compared to other islands within the Caribbean.
The remarks from the Labour Minister follows calls from General Secretary of the Antigua Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU), David Massiah, for the government to convene a committee to look at increasing the minimum wage.
Massiah suggested that the time is right for such a discussion in light of the changes within the economic situation of the country and the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the employment sector.
He also explained that most residents are already stretched while being forced to deal with the increasing cost of basic items.
“Workers are now living on an advisory that was made back in 2013 and they are living at that rate of almost six years behind the time. We are now in 2021, so let us review. This is what will give rise to greater poverty because people are below the economic rate and value that they should be [at], so there needs to be a revision of what the process is and let us do it together,” Massiah insisted.
Meanwhile, Benjamin said the government is committed to the revision process, noting that under his stewardship, the minimum wage was increased in 1999 and again in 2014.