The regime has slashed Wages Council recommended pay increases by almost 50% in several categories, compared to the rates awarded in August under the Chair of Father Kevin Barr.
In the case of workers in the Hotel and Catering Industry, the Wages Council in August had recommended a 15% increase. The regime’s new pay order announced Thursday, slashed this to 7.9%.
An angry Father Barr has slammed this as “a scandal”. “This industry covers the tourist industry which claims to be a [multi] million dollar industry and receives a handout of $23m in the Budget yet it doesn’t want to pay its workers a decent wage,” he said.
August recommended pays were also virtually halved in the case of workers in the Building and Civil and Engineering trades and the Printing sector, as evidenced from figures available to FLP.
But in the garment and manufacturing sector, the regime adhered to the 9.9% award made by the Wages Council in August, the deferment of which had forced Father Barr to resign in protest.
Even then, the 9.9% increase granted will only allow pays in the garment sector to rise to a little over $2 an hour. It is less for beginners.
In the light of these details, FLP questions the regime’s statement that it was “committed to ensure social justice prevails for workers”.
It is a pity that the local media has once again merely regurgitated the regime’s publicity stunt without analysing the fact that in a number of cases, pay increases that were awarded in August, had been drastically slashed.
The FLP has often stated that the regime was anti-worker and anti-poor. Our view received support from Father Barr: “This government is more and more declaring itself to be anti-poor and anti-worker and that is very sad for those who had hoped that greater economic justice might be championed in our country”.
Father Barr says the presentation of these increases in percentage terms is very misleading, and hide the fact that the increases are relatively small.
“The low wage increases make a joke of government’s constant declaration that it wants to alleviate poverty. Unless wages are increased at a reasonable rate above the ever-increasing cost of living, then poverty will continue to increase (as it has in the past). Wages are a key issue for poverty alleviation.
Father Barr said government increases had not allowed for “the catch up factor” for “the lost or stolen wages over 30 years” due to employers not allowing wages to keep up with the cost of living.
“Of course the small lobby of greedy employers has once again got its way with government in a way consistent with crony capitalism. The protests of a few employers has won out over the needs of 60% of workers in full time employment,” he said.
Father Barr said he was informed that 5000 signatures of workers were presented to the Minister for Labour and the Prime Minister “but it seems that their voice counts for nothing”.