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Cayman may consider Bermuda wage issue

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The Cayman Islands may keep an eye on Bermuda as they review a $6-an-hour minimum wage implemented in March 2016.

The Cayman Compass is reporting broad support for a review of the six-year-old benchmark.

Chris Saunders, the Deputy Premier conceded that six dollars was way too low.

He said the government was looking to increase wages in tourism jobs, many of which already amount to minimum wage.

He said a committee was needed so that all aspects of the issue could be assessed, including the effects on businesses, employees and the overall economy.

He said the community could gradually move to a “decent living wage where people can actually live their best life”, the publication reported.

Business and training leaders have acknowledged that six bucks an hour is problematic.

The Cayman government continues to pay unemployed tourism workers a stipend, which is pegged at $1,500 a month, and equates to about nine dollars an hour.

The Cayman Compass stated yesterday: “A recent review in Bermuda, which is considering implementing a minimum wage for the first time, suggested somewhere between US$13.20 and $17.30 per hour would be needed on the island, which has a similar economy and cost-of-living to Cayman.”

It referenced an article in The Royal Gazette in which Cordell Riley, the chairman of Bermuda’s Wage Commission said he believed as many as 5,000 people on the island – 15 per cent of the workforce – earned poverty-level wages.

Riley said a proposed $13.20 an hour was “the wage floor option”, and that many employers had reported that they paid at least that rate.

Riley said $15.75 an hour was an option at the poverty level threshold, which begins taking those at the lower end out of poverty. While it would be a stretch for some employers, most could make it happen.

He added that $17.30 an hour was “at the lower bounds of a liveable wage” but would be transitional.

The Bermuda Wage Commission, set up in February 2020, is made up of union representatives, business leaders and economists.

It is expected to provide a second report on a living wage this fiscal year. Consultation will commence with stakeholders on a statutory minimum wage with the aim of tabling a Wage Bill in parliament.

In Cayman, Shomari Scott, the new president of the Chamber of Commerce said this week that Caymanian workers needed more than just better pay for tourism jobs, but a path to higher-paying careers and lifelong learning.

He warned that while a minimum wage review was welcomed, the implications of any increase would need to involve consultation with the private sector.

With some sectors still reeling from the pandemic, he said, there was a risk that raising wages without proper consideration and consultation would result in difficulties, particularly for small operators.

Chris Saunders: Deputy Premier of the Cayman Islands (File photograph)
Shomari Scott, president of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce(File photograph)

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Published March 29, 2022 at 7:53 am (Updated March 29, 2022 at 11:27 am)

Cayman may consider Bermuda wage issue

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