Women’s charity supports living wage
Children would be more likely to have their basic needs met if plans to introduce a living wage in Bermuda get the go-ahead, campaigners said yesterday,
The Women’s Resource Centre said essentials like a home and proper meals can be out of reach for struggling families, but that it hoped proposals made by a parliamentary group will ensure workers earn enough to cover basic living standards.
The WRC added the implementation of a living wage by 2021 was “a welcoming prospect for the women heading up single-parent households in Bermuda”.
Backing from the charity came just before a debate on the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee report on a living wage is expected to be held in the House of Assembly on Friday.
Elaine Butterfield, WRC executive director, said the 2016 Census showed nearly nine out of ten, 87 per cent, of one-parent households were led by women, a 6 per cent increase from 2010.
She explained: “A living wage could translate into a single mother with children being able to provide basic needs for her children, like a place to live, three meals per day, clean clothes and basic childcare if she has a job.
“For those who see this as an ideal, as a charity, we received 21 requests from single parents with children last month alone.Their needs included shelter, groceries, clothing or a job.”
Ms Butterfield said the WRC provided support where possible and also referred clients to other organisations.
She added: “It is important to consider that people do not only need an increase in income, they also need the education and support of services and agencies to help them to become more economically self-sufficient.
“This is paramount because of the inability to sustain the financial assistance programme as it currently is and the current efforts towards necessary reform.
Ms Butterfield said: “Education and support are important to change the way that we see, understand and use money, for our own benefit, especially for those who are barely making ends meet or have no ends in place to meet.”
It is thought some of Bermuda’s lowest-paid workers could treble their pay packets within three years if the living wage proposals get the green light.
The report advised that a minimum hourly rate of $12.25 is introduced from next May.
It also proposed that a living wage should be in place from 2021, with an amount to be set by economic experts, union officials and employers.
Calculations suggested this could start at $18.23 an hour.
The parliamentary committee carried out an initial round of consultations and its report recommended further discussion before the Government takes steps to put a new pay scheme in place.
Representatives of the business community have emphasised the need for more talks and said the chance to ask questions or air views would be welcome.
Ms Butterfield added that the “sustainability and success of the initiative” was a concern.
She added: “We join the voices of those who advocate for more consultation and inclusion in determining how it should be done.
“There are so many variables that must be considered. It will certainly be a major adjustment for some and heaven-sent for others.
“However, it is our hope that we are all willing to bite the bullet and make the necessary change that it will take to make this successful for all of us.
“Economic inclusion should be for all of us, including all of the single women heading up family homes, who matter very much as they raise our future.”
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