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Living wage explained as commission’s work continues

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Cordell Riley, the chairman of the Wage Commission (Photograph supplied).

Recommendations on a living wage in Bermuda are expected to be delivered to the Government at the start of next year, the chairman of the Wage Commission has said.

Cordell Riley will be giving a public presentation on Monday from 6pm at the Bermuda National Library that outlines the difference between the minimum wage and a living wage, progress made so far on developing a living wage and the benefits of doing so.

He said the delivery of the recommendations for a living wage was delayed.

Mr Riley explained: “The Wage Commission had a meeting last week. What has happened is we identified a vendor to carry out the work of developing a living wage which is more concentrated than a minimum wage.

“We did not get any vendors during the first tender and so we had to go out again.

“When we did find a vendor for the project, the process did not comply with the procurement policies of government so we have had to retender. The commission has taken the decision to begin the process so as not to delay it further as we should have introduced it last year.

“We will start initial work and hopefully we will have a tender before the end of the year, and can deliver it by the beginning of next year.”

In April 2021, the Wage Commission provided Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, with its report, which detailed recommendations for a minimum hourly wage rate in Bermuda.

The commission said a wage floor would protect Bermuda’s labour force, especially those in low-paid occupations such as hospitality, horticulture and domestic work.

As well as Mr Riley, the commission includes economists Craig Simmons and Robert Stubbs, Philip Barnett, the president of Island Restaurant Group, and ex-officio members. The late Martha Dismont was also on the commission.

The commission presented minimum wage options to the Government and on June 1 it was set at $16.40.

Mr Riley explained: “With the minimum wage, we took the philosophy that the minimum wage is the floor. We didn’t take into consideration how much money you need to buy things but we set a rate that you cannot go below.

“We arrived at that based on the universal definition of poverty, which is earning less than half of the median wage.

“Part of our rationale was that we didn’t want to recommend a wage we knew to be below the poverty line so we gave a range because we knew the living wage is going to be higher.

“The living wage takes into consideration what you need to survive including the level of nutrition we require, rent, bills and all of those things. The other side of it is how do you position it by household type whether it be for a single person, a young family, etc.

“I think if you want to understand what it is all about, particularly a living wage, this will be something you should attend.”

The Bermuda National Library is at 13 Queen Street, Hamilton. Light refreshments will be served and spaces are limited

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Published August 24, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated August 25, 2023 at 6:53 pm)

Living wage explained as commission’s work continues

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