Minimum Wage Review For The Federation
Basseterre, Saint Kitts – Nevis
SKNIS – June 6, 2008
We must avoid narrow interests and pursue long-term solutions to prevailing global economic conditions that are affecting the economy of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The advice was given by the Hon. Dwyer Astaphan, minister responsible for Labour, who was addressing Private and Public Sector stakeholders and officials during the Minimum Wage Consultation. Minister Astaphan was framing the context of the minimum wage review in light of rising fuel and food prices around the world.
The Minimum Wage Advisory Consultation is held in fulfilling the requirements under the Labour (Minimum Wage) Act, Chapter 344, which calls for the periodic review of minimum wages in the Federation. Minister Astaphan pointed out that the cost of oil has risen over 500 percent in the last 10 years giving rise to the challenging economic situations in countries the world over.
“The reasons are manifold,” commented Minister Astaphan. “We know what is happening in the economies of China and India, the two largest population centers on the planet. Those economies are going through the roof. The demand for goods and other things that sustain and expand economies has gone up exponentially, and we know that the world economy still, for some time to come ““ which is the most worrying thing about it, is premised on oil and carbon- based energy sources.”
But he warned that we have a collective duty and responsibility to reshape and invent new strategies to achieve long-term solutions. “So we need, in my view ladies and gentlemen, a long-term approach. This is not a short-term measure. Our whole strategic planning has to be subject to a new paradigm. We can’t put plaster on wounds. What we are doing now (consultation) must inform Government policy and Government action for the next 20 years, in my view, and how we do business here. How do we put together a package of incentives for our local business people, of all sizes, and for corporate partners from outside this economy? We are at a crossroad, so when we are speaking of a minimum wage, we have to put all of those things into the pot. We have to discard the pursuit of narrow interests, because short-term gratification is going to compromise our survival.”
The Minister said that the preferred way forward is a negotiated minimum wage that takes into account cost of living factors, as well as productivity issues. He said both employers and employees must achieve a workable understanding.