Antigua minimum wage review welcomed by opposition
A union official is welcoming word that the National Minimum Wage Advisory Committee in Antigua and Barbuda, has not only been constituted but is expected to have its first meeting this Friday after years of calling for the living wage to be reviewed.
Labour Minister Steadroy Benjamin confirmed to Observer on Friday that the committee is now in place to examine the pros and cons associated with a possible increase to the rate.
It comes after mounting calls for the government to reassess what is considered a living wage in Antigua and Barbuda, with the current rate of $8.20 per hour serving as the standard since 2015.
Speaking to Observer Media on Sunday, Deputy General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) Chester Hughes said the long-awaited move is welcomed news.
“A lot has changed since 2015. We have seen clear increases in the cost of living and Social Security, and it is only fair to the people that are earning on the lower end of the pay spectrum that the committee at least meet and assess, in a meaningful way, whether these people can actually survive on what they are being paid now,” Hughes said.
In January, General Secretary of the ABWU, David Massiah, said the union had written to Benjamin on two occasions urging the speedy formation of the committee, adding that he was concerned that the real wage for vulnerable employees – particularly those in the security, retail, domestic, and other sectors – had diminished substantially due to soaring prices of goods coupled with an increase in Social Security contributions.
Meanwhile, founding member of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Anthony Stewart is calling on the government to consider moving the minimum wage to $10 per hour.
He is, however, suggesting the increase be installed via a sliding scale, which could mean a minimum wage increase to $9 in 2022, another increase of 50 cents in 2023, until it is finally increased to $10 in 2024 to account for the economic hardships brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Union and opposition parties welcome review of minimum wage Antigua Observer