At the start of this month, the Ministry of Labor announced the appointment of a Minimum Wage Task Force to ensure the successful implementation of the five-dollar minimum wage that the People’s United Party pledged in its Plan Belize manifesto. PPF Capital Belize Limited was successful in its bid as the consultancy firm contracted to hold nationwide consultations with key stakeholders. After the consultations, the company will submit a plan for the gradual implementation of the five-dollar minimum wage. But given the continued increase in cost of living, critics say that five dollars is not enough. President of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) Luis Luke Martinez says that back in 2012, a formula to adjust the minimum was shared with the then UDP government. Martinez says that if the then government would have accepted the formula ten years ago, what poor Belizeans are going through in today’s world would have been avoided.
Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: “An increase in the minimum wage is something that we welcome. If you go back to the last exercise which was done I think in 2012 I think that was the last exercise ten years ago the National Trade Union Congress has submitted what could have been a formula that would have seen us beyond this point so we continue to support the idea of a formula. Any why a formula versus let’s just move from one point to the other ? You move from one point to the other you give the politicians an opportunity to continue to what we term as exploit the workers in this country for votes. So if we were to adopt that formula in 2012 today the minimum wage would have been past five dollars an hour. In fact in 2012 the National Trade Union Congress’ position was at $6 including the formula that we had shared.”
Martinez agrees that at this time, the five dollar minimum wage is not enough in today’s economy.
Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: “And we’re hoping that at the end of this exercise that not only that the government accepts a formula that will be legally binding but also we’re hoping that we would also see the implementation of the recommendations from the task force. So there were a number of recommendations last time in 2012. I challenge you to read that report. I could also share that report with you. Those recommendations clearly were not followed.”
Reporter: That was in 2012, given now ten years later we have now the pandemic as Marisol mentioned, we have inflation, could that formula still work or would it have to be revisited and then tweaked ?
Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: “Of course we could always tweak the formula but the formula will ensure that there is always an increase, there’s a gradual increase depending on the indicators that we all agree on and so we’re hoping that that would be the case.”