Wage Council meets to consider minimum wage hike

Today government officials, representatives of the business community and unionists gathered in Belize City for a meeting of the Wages Council. The top priority on the agenda is a review of minimum wage levels in Belize. Latest statistics suggest that more than twelve thousand Belizeans currently earn the minimum wage, which is set at only two dollars to two twenty-five an hour, depending on the type of work. That figure has not been revised since the last meeting of the Wages Council, four years ago. This afternoon Minister of Education and Labour Francis Fonseca maintained that inflation and the rising cost of living will be taken into account during the new council's discussions.

Francis Fonseca, Minster of Education and Labour
“What we are really seeking here is to arrive at some consensus, some balance always, there’s never going to be one side winning when it comes to minimum wage. But what we have to ensure is that there is some balance that allows labour to get a fair wage for fair work fair and allows the employers to earn a reasonable profit while growing their business. So I think that’s the general mandate that we are giving to the council today. It’s very difficult when you talk about agricultural workers. For example, where you have a lot of foreign workers in the agricultural sector. So that will require some special discussions and special consultations but our objective really and the government’s position is that we really need to do more to secure a fair wage for our workers in Belize. Many of our workers are still earning two dollars, two-twenty-five an hour, domestic workers for example and shop assistance. A lot of them, the whole work structure has changed for many of them. They are required to do many other things than they use to do in the past. So we think it’s timely that we look at that, their work and see how we can adjust the wage to ensure that they are still able to meet the needs of families.”

The recommendations of the Wages Council are expected to be presented to Cabinet in three months time.