By Devonne Cornelius
Basseterre, St. Kitts, Jan 11, 2024 (ZIZ Newsroom): Employment and labour officials in St. Kitts and Nevis are explaining why the country’s minimum wage increase is being phased in.
According to the officials, data from the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board, and the statistics department backed the two-phased approach to the increase.
“It was an analytical approach in terms of utilizing the data from ECCB, Social Security and statistical department in St. Kitts as to how we should go about doing this,” said Mr. Jeneve Mills, Labour Officer in the Ministry of Employment and Labour.
Mr. Mills says that with the minimum wage rise, a pay before deductions should be $430 if an employee worked an eight-hour shift at a rate of $10.75 and that the increase from $360 to $430 constitutes a 19.40 percent increase, and the increase to $500 represents a 38.90 percent increase. He also took use of the occasion to encourage employees to submit a complaint to the Ministry of Employment and Labour if they are paid less than the minimum wage.
The Minimum Wage Advisory Committee said consideration was given to small businesses in the country and the potential impact on their operations.
“It was mainly a question of the small businesses and they were under severe pressure. We believed that the big businesses could pay that without winking. They are making super profits,” said Mr. Sam Condor, Chairman of the Minimum Wage Advisory Committee
While the minimum wage has been increased to $430 per week effective January 1, 2024, and $500 from July 1, 2025, Mr. Condor revealed that there were recommendations from interest groups.
“St. Kitts and Nevis Trades and Labour Union’s submission was that it should increase to $600 per week which was almost a 100 percent increase. We had a submission from the Consumer Affairs Department and they recommended $500…and we had recommendations from the Labour Department in Nevis who also recommended $500 and the central bank recommended just over $400,” Mr. Condor said.
The Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Labour Department in Nevis, and small and major firms in St. Kitts and Nevis also provided input.