Former Trade Unionist Chester Humphrey has joined his former colleagues in the labour movement in welcoming the new minimum wage order, which will come into effect on January 1, ushering in wage increases of up to 100% across various sectors after approximately eight (8) months of consultations.
Humphrey stressed the timeliness and necessity of the wage adjustment, especially during a period of high inflation, in an interview with reporters outside the Parliament building on Budget day.
The former boss of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) argued for automatic adjustments to the minimum wage, considering the impact of inflation on the diminishing value of labour over time.
Noting that the “the tendency has been to forget minimum wage earners overtime,” he stated that the increase in the minimum wages is “long overdue.”
“I always believe that there are to be an automatic in-built thing in the adjustments in relation to minimum wage – it should happen whether or not you pay, get to the increase in the CPI… because every year the value of the money you get for labour diminishes by virtue of the inflationary spiral and we are in a period of high inflation, right so I think it is timely and necessary,” he remarked.
This is the first time in 12 years that the minimum wage has been revised, although the law requires a review every three (3) years.
Speaking at a press conference in St. George’s on Wednesday, Minister with responsibility for Labour, Sen. Claudette Joseph emphasised the importance of compliance, noting that employers will be legally obligated to prominently display the new minimum wage order for employees to review.
To ensure adherence to the revised wages, Minister Joseph, who is also the Attorney General, and Minister for Legal Affairs announced the establishment of a committee tasked with monitoring and enforcing compliance.
Penalties for non-compliance are severe, with a first-time offense resulting in a fine of EC$5000.00. Repeat offenses carry an even heftier penalty of EC$10,000.00 per violation.
Additionally, employers found in violation will be required to pay the withheld difference to the affected employees, along with accrued interest.
The implementation of the new minimum wage order reflects a commitment to addressing economic disparities and ensuring fair compensation for workers.