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‘No reckless tactics by Govt to hike minimum wage’

Published: 
Sunday, September 7, 2014

Labour Minister Errol Mc Leod says the People’s Partnership Government will maintain a sensible course of action in dealing with the sensitive issue of increasing the minimum wage which is now $12.50 per hour. 

Speaking to the Sunday Guardian on Friday at a reception to welcome Julian Henry as the new CEO of the National Enterprise Development Company Ltd (Nedco), held at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad on Dock Road in Port-of-Spain, Mc Leod said the Kamla Persad-Bissessar-led administration would not employ reckless tactics in dealing with this major national issue.

The trade union movement and civil society groups were calling on Minister of Finance and the Economy Larry Howai to factor in a minimum wage hike in tomorrow’s 2014/2015 budget presentation. While he had not received any formal proposals that called for an increase in the minimum wage from $12.50 to $20, Mc Leod was aware of the efforts of campaigners lobbying for such an adjustment.

Asked if he had any such discussions with the Minister of Finance on a new minimum wage ceiling that would be reflected in the budget, Mc Leod said he and the minister continued to talk. 

“The call was made in 2010 when we were on the election campaign and we sought to address it. As you would know, effective the first of January 2011, we affected a minimum wage that moved from $9 to $12.50 an hour and we have had the Minimum Wages’ Board working assiduously to address the question where should we peg the minimum wage given the cost of living and everything else in T&T. 

“We are guided by a most important principle: the minimum wage should be set at a level that seeks to deal with the high cost of living and so on, that seeks to deal with the question of decent wage and all of that but that it must also take into consideration that the minimum wage must not adversely affect employment levels and we are dealing with that. “I anticipate that the Minister of Finance will make a most appropriate statement in that regard in the budget statement,” he said.

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