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Sunday, Dec 04, 2022

Hike in minimum wage ‘intentionally’ put off due to state of VI’s economy– Labour Minister

Hike in minimum wage ‘intentionally’ put off due to state of VI’s economy– Labour Minister

Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Hon. Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) has revealed that the overdue increase in the Virgin Islands’ minimum wage has been intentionally put on hold due to the current state of the territory’s economy.

Honourable Wheatley made the disclosure while responding to questions from the press on Friday, March 25, 2022.

“I think there was a study done around 2014 that said it should be revised in five years, which would have been 2019, but then up came the hurricanes and the pandemic and the Commission of Inquiry (CoI),” he said.

He continued: “I don’t think businesses will like me right now if I decided to hike the minimum wage. The employees might like it but it is something we have to discuss. I have intentionally put it off until we get a bit more settled with our economy.”

Living wage

Minister Wheatley stated that the phrase “minimum wage” is an interesting concept but he would “like to move more towards a living wage.”

He further explained: “Because if you tell somebody to pay minimum wage there are those companies that will do just that. Sometimes your minimum wage may not be a living wage. Right now, I think it’s six dollars. If you really calculate what a person makes at minimum wage and look at house rents and the cost of goods and services, you can’t live on that. It’s not a living wage. But it’s a minimum wage and it is something that I have looked at personally for a period of time but you have to look at these things in the concept of what’s happening in the wider economy before we go trying to make the change from what it is right now. But had it all been equal and no hurricanes and no pandemic, yes, I probably would have advanced that a long time ago.”

Meanwhile Premier and Minister of Finance Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) said this was one of the reasons why his government is providing the various economic stimulus on fuel and Customs duties at this time, “Because we realise it is very hard on families; we recognise that it is a struggle.”


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