Hayward defends minimum wage delay despite criticism
Government yesterday defended its decision to sideline proposals for a minimum wage for at least a year.
The Government-appointed Wages Commission delivered its recommendations on minimum wage levels last month.
But Jason Hayward, the labour minister, told the House of Assembly after the document was tabled that no action would be taken until the commission had submitted a second report on a living wage.
The living wage report is not expected to be completed for at least another year.
Mr Hayward said yesterday: “What the Government didn’t want to do is move gung-ho with the implementation of a minimum wage rate and then we get a living wage report that is contradictory to the way in which we move and causes us disruption or difficulty to adjust to that.
“What we actually want to see is that if we implement a statutory minimum wage it’s in alignment with a living wage regime so that there’s continuity.”
The decision was condemned by two commission members – union leader Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union and Robert Stubbs, an economist, earlier this week.
They claimed the Government was “kicking the can down the road”.
But Mr Hayward said: “It sounds simple, but we want to ensure that we have all the information so that we make the best decision.
“It’s easy for us to make a decision, but we want to ensure that we’re making the best decision in the best interests of the workers of this country.
“To make the best decision we need all the information available to us.
Mr Hayward added: “The worst thing would be to have a big fight with employers to implement a minimum wage at x-rate and then come one more year down the line and tell them that we’re shifting that wage to a living wage because that’s what’s recommended in a report.
“What we’re trying to do is minimise that level of disruption. We want to have continuity between what is a statutory minimum rate and the living wage regime so that, moving forward, we can build off of that.”