Sustainable Minimum Wage Critical to National Development

Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS) — The importance of a minimum wage to any society is being highlighted by Labour Commissioner Spencer Amory as workers in St. Kitts and Nevis anticipate a rise in pay, come November 01, 2014.

During a recent interview, the Department of Labour official noted that the twin-island Federation continues to be the leader in the Eastern Caribbean in the export of goods and services to the United States and explained that this achievement is largely due to the manufactured goods produced by several of the companies at the C.A. Paul Southwell Industrial Site. He added that the hard work of the employees – most of whom are minimum wage earners – results in high quality products that allow the businesses to maintain positive relationships with international clients.

Mr. Amory said that fair work requires fair pay and the minimum wage rate is a tool used throughout the world to ensure that workers are protected.

“It ensures that they are getting a sustainable wage so that they can meet their basic needs,” he stated. “It is a tool certainly for a Government to ensure that there is no unfair wage competition in the country. It also helps with the national distribution of wealth within a country so there are a number of factors built in.”

The minimum wage in St. Kitts and Nevis will move from $8 an hour which totals $320 for a 40 hour work week, to $9 an hour or $360 per week. Mr. Amory explained that public, private and civil society stakeholders were intimately involved in the consultation meetings and also the national advisory committee meetings which made the recommendations about the new wage rate that was submitted to Cabinet for consideration. All stakeholders agreed that the minimum wage should be raised. They also submitted recommendations about social security contributions, money management matters and productivity and competitiveness issues.

“It is going to be critical that the productivity and competitiveness of St. Kitts and Nevis comes to the forefront,” the Labour Commissioner stressed. “The working population must understand that they have rights and obligations but the employers too have rights and obligations. We are all in this boat together – the government, employers and employees …

“That is my advice to people, be very conscientious of what your work means not only to you on a personal level but [also] in the national scheme of things.”

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