New Wages Council launched
August 24, 2007

New Wages Council launched

Cabinet has given the Wages Councils until December 2007 to prepare and submit their recommendations on minimum wages in St.Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

René Baptiste, Minister of Labour, made the disclosure on Tuesday, August 21, 2007, at the official launch of the Wages Councils, which took place at the Peace Memorial Hall.

The Wages Councils of 2007, said Baptiste, will deal with the wages of Industrial Workers, Domestic Workers, workers in the office of Professionals, Hotel Workers, Agricultural Workers, Security Workers, and Shop Assistants.

Baptiste challenged the Wages Councils that their mandate is much more than reviewing wages, fixing remuneration, setting the minimum maternity, vacation and sick leave, terms amd conditions. She urge them to explore the possibility of introducing flexible working hours.

“I want us to really undertake this in a very studious fashion and apply ourselves in a very serious way,” said Baptiste.

Veteran Trade Unionist Joseph “Burns” Bonadie, addressed the meeting in his capacity as Consultant at the Workers Institute of Research and Education. In his historical account of Wages Councils in St Vincent and the Grenadines, he noted that there were no minimum wages councils in this country in the period 1989-2003.

He said this has left “a big gap where workers, who had no one to speak for them, had to continue working for the minimum wages established prior to 1989 all the way to 2003”.

“Those workers represented by trade unions continued to keep pace with the cost of living but those who were not represented, their minimum wage never moved,” said Bonadie.

He called on council members to guard against or to take into consideration would be employers who employ part time workers to escape the minimum standards required for vacation and sick leave. Bonadie said that shop assistants are the chief victims in this area.

Meanwhile, Andreas Wickham, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, disclosed that Cabinet approved the names of persons who will serve on the Wages Councils since June.

He said that these individuals have been appointed to deliberate on matters relating to the terms of conditions of work, hours of work, minimum wages, holiday, sick leave, maternity leave, vacation pay, overtime, among other issues.

Godson Caine, Chairman of the Wages Councils, said the councils should not be viewed as “just a talk shop” but should be considered a serious entity with the capability of impacting people’s lives in various ways.

“It is incumbent on us in the Wages Council to get our homework done right and get it right quickly and properly so that we have fairer and more reflective system of work, and rewards,” said Caine.(HN)