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Local wages

Posted By: Peter Jones

Local wages - 04/04/10 03:50 PM

I was talking to a friend, a gringo, recently. He introduced me to a local he knows, pleasant young (late 20's) chap, who works for a SP woodworking firm as a carpenter. He apparently earns Bz$190 for a full 6 day week. Anyone else think that's a bit low?
Posted By: Dane

Re: Local wages - 04/04/10 04:22 PM

Alien?
Posted By: ron

Re: Local wages - 04/04/10 04:26 PM

Yes, everyone I've used on CC has charged me more than that.
Posted By: Uncle Buck

Re: Local wages - 04/04/10 05:15 PM

Yes, the majority of laborers that cook your food, clean your rooms, and to the other majority of services in San Pedro and Belize are severely under paid. A girlfriend of mine cooks at Fidos and takes home $160bz per week for around 35 hours of work. They work her right below that 40 hour per week mark, so they don't have to offer fulltime employee benefits....so clever

Can anyone imagine living in San Pedro on $80usd a week?

I want to do a reality show where we get a rich business owner to try and live a month on what he pays his employees in San Pedro.

Belize desperately needs a functioning workers union, and the minimum wage needs to be doubled.
Posted By: klcman

Re: Local wages - 04/04/10 07:31 PM

Originally Posted by Uncle Buck
..................
I want to do a reality show where we get a rich business owner to try and live a month on what he pays his employees in San Pedro...........


CBS network has it, Uncle Buck. Undercover Boss, produced by Studio Lambert http://www.studiolambert.com/

Go get 'em!



Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Local wages - 04/04/10 07:33 PM

Originally Posted by Uncle Buck
Yes, the majority of laborers that cook your food, clean your rooms, and to the other majority of services in San Pedro and Belize are severely under paid. A girlfriend of mine cooks at Fidos and takes home $160bz per week for around 35 hours of work. They work her right below that 40 hour per week mark, so they don't have to offer fulltime employee benefits....so clever

Can anyone imagine living in San Pedro on $80usd a week?

I want to do a reality show where we get a rich business owner to try and live a month on what he pays his employees in San Pedro.

Belize desperately needs a functioning workers union, and the minimum wage needs to be doubled.

Then you can bitch and complain when all the prices rise to cover the higher wages
Posted By: Uncle Buck

Re: Local wages - 04/04/10 07:45 PM

Yeah, paying people $2usd per hour to live and work in San Pedro is totally legit.

I've never seen proof that raising the minimum wage increases costs of goods and services, always considered it a myth.

CEO's and business owners are making millions and that's ok, but a living wage for the workers is totally uncalled for because bananas might go up 5 cents a pound. Yikes!
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Local wages - 04/04/10 08:23 PM

Sounds like Jesse is worried his drinks might cost him more. smile
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Local wages - 04/04/10 10:18 PM

Jesse drinks ?I suppose Ive never seen him sober.
Posted By: JZB

Re: Local wages - 04/04/10 10:36 PM

Originally Posted by Uncle Buck
A girlfriend of mine cooks at Fidos and takes home $160bz per week for around 35 hours of work. They work her right below that 40 hour per week mark, so they don't have to offer fulltime employee benefits....so clever


What are the employee benefits for someone who works 45 hours per week compared to 35?
Posted By: sandyb

Re: Local wages - 04/04/10 10:38 PM

From my experience, it depends on who they are working for.
Still, the wages are extremely low compared to the prices charged by the vendor for goods sold.
Posted By: Short

Re: Local wages - 04/05/10 05:05 AM

Well, he must not be a skilled worker then, and /or have secondary conditions (like free board or/and lodging). Still far above the minimum wage which is BZ$ 135 per week. When people want to work for that and is is not illegal, I see no problem.
Posted By: Phil

Re: Local wages - 04/05/10 04:39 PM

Originally Posted by sandyb
From my experience, it depends on who they are working for.


True.

Originally Posted by sandyb
Still, the wages are extremely low compared to the prices charged by the vendor for goods sold.


I see this comment quite often from both visitors and people who live here full or part time and don't run a business. While undoubtably things in general could cost less for many reasons, there are a lot of factors people need to consider and might not have.

Firstly is how cyclical business is through the year. End of Dec - March. as busy as it will get. Apr - Aug. half bore. Sept - late Dec (excluding a week for Thanksgiving). comatose. This means all profits need to come in the first period, the second period is break even and last period a total loss. The bills still come at an unyielding rate through the year with no drop. Rent, wages, electricity, water, insurance etc.

Rent is high. I would guess the average rent on Front Street for an average size property is US$2,000 per month.

Duty. Almost everything in the Country is imported and has Import Duty tagged on top. 20 - 50% is the norm, and that's before GST and Environmental Tax. Items considered luxury are higher than staples. If a shop owner buys a item for resale and it is US$50. He pays to have this shipped from, say, New York to Miami then Miami to Belize. The cost of both shipping routes is added to the product total and the duty is applied on top this overall total. This duty inclusive total is now double taxed with 12.5% GST added and triple taxed with a 1% Environmental tax. Then there are Brokerage fees to clear the goods from Cutoms and transport to San Pedro. So a $50 product, $12 shipping, $18 duty (@30% rate) $10 GST, $1 Environment Tax makes a $50 product now $91. Add shipping to the Caye, Cutoms Broker fees it's almost double the cost. This is your cost to get the item in your shop. Add the margin for running costs to open your store and it's easy to see why things can cost double their US price. Oh yes. This is without an added profit margin - the whole point in opening your shop!!!!
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Local wages - 04/05/10 04:41 PM

Well stated...and accurate!
Posted By: sandyb

Re: Local wages - 04/05/10 05:45 PM

Phil,

I understand completely the huge add-on cost to importing goods to run a business thereby the higher end cost. Also the highs & lows of the tourist season. I'm speaking of some of the individuals who pay their help ridiculously low wages for very long hours and pocket large profits.
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Local wages - 04/05/10 05:47 PM

Who do you think are "pocketing large profits"? They certainly keep that well-hidden!
Posted By: GwenA

Re: Local wages - 04/05/10 08:50 PM

Exactly correct Jesse, obviously sandyb didn't get the point of Phil's 'asstoot' analysis. Sandyb needs to hear that age old San Pedro adage...invest all your money here, and start a business, and find that you are lucky to pay to live here. Large profits? ha, ha ha.
But if you can get involved in that pyrimid process to start developments that rape this place, and get out before the investors find out what happened (ala Bernie Madoff) you can make some large profits. And which are those discussed on the board? Get wise people.
Posted By: ron

Re: Local wages - 04/05/10 09:17 PM

Phil, your analysis of the cost of getting goods to market in Belize is spot on. In the course of building my house, I have shipped lots of stuff from the States to Belize. At first I thought the price of goods was high in Belize but when I saw what all of the costs were to get goods to Caye Caulker were, turns out that added duties, and taxes made the biggest impact. It easier for me to buy in the States and ship down to CC then it is to buy on CC. The prices are just about the same but I have greater variety here and can shop better in the states and I don't have to send a day in Belize city looking for stuff, taking time away from a cold Belikin. Although, I have had a a few Belikins in BC and they are just as cold there as on CC, its nice to sit at the split and enjoy the brew.
Posted By: txroughneck

Re: Local wages - 04/06/10 01:44 AM

I think that it's great that Americans want to go to a small country and try to "Americanize" it. If you want to live there then maybe you should really not try to change it to be more like where you came from. If the people of San Pedro feel like there workers are exploited then they will do something about it. It is not up to the "outsiders" to push them in that direction. I love San Pedro and hope to move there someday(hopefully sooner than later).
Posted By: Peter Jones

Re: Local wages - 04/06/10 04:29 AM

Since when does paying workers a living wage constitute "Americanisation"?
Posted By: txroughneck

Re: Local wages - 04/06/10 05:16 AM

I'm not saying that people shouldn't be paid an honest living wage. On the other hand, why should it come down to unions and government regulations? I love San Pedro and all of the people that I have met in my stays there. I am not from a state that has a history of being very "union friendly" and we seem to have something like the 10th strongest economy in the world. I know a little about being underpaid though too. I was a carpenter for almost eight years. I then went to work for a drilling company on a drilling rig. It is great pay, hard work and usually pretty undesirable working conditions but we choose to submit ourselves to such an industry. We have no unions and OSHA never bothered us until this past year. Most of us wish that the government regulations, including OSHA, would just let us do our jobs, no matter how bad the conditions may be. I guess that my point is that some people believe in less government regulation in a free market system. Let the workers decide what is fair for them and let them work for it.
Originally Posted by Short
Well, he must not be a skilled worker then, and /or have secondary conditions (like free board or/and lodging). Still far above the minimum wage which is BZ$ 135 per week. When people want to work for that and is is not illegal, I see no problem.
Posted By: Peter Jones

Re: Local wages - 04/06/10 06:06 AM

That is idealistic and perhaps rather a naive view when applied to a place like Belize. With so much unemployment here what is a person like this carpenter to do?
Posted By: txroughneck

Re: Local wages - 04/06/10 06:20 AM

Anything they can...that's all that can be expected. People seem to be a very adaptable species when need be. Trust me...my family moved to San Pedro something like 20 years ago with next to nothing. You would be extremely surprised at what they have now. And it seems to only be naive when people want more and more. From my travels to SP, especially years ago, people were extremely happy and content with what they had, which was not much then...probably much less than most of them have now. From what I have seen (I seem to stay off of the beaten path), Belize has been much better off than most of the other countries in the area. I'm not saying that people shouldn't be paid more in some areas of expertise but it should all be up to a deal between the worker and the employer. I don't wait on the government or a union to negotiate that in my case and I would not expect others to do so. I used to live in a town were $400us a week was pretty good pay. Could you live off of that? This was not a town with just a couple hundred people...it had over 17,000. I know that is not alot but why would so many people live in such a low wage area? Because the wage was set where business could boom and people could live comfortably.
Posted By: Peter Jones

Re: Local wages - 04/06/10 06:54 AM

Wages in the past have no relevance to now. The cost of living now in San Pedro is such that I imagine it must be extremely difficult to live at even the most basic level on Bz$190/week. I haven't said before, but this guy has a wife and children in Orange Walk and he sends half his pay to them each week. He's only in San Pedro because there's no work at all near his home, and $190 is better than nothing. But he is right down at subsistence level.

How your family managed to progress over the years is also irrelevant. Some people do manage to do very well here.
Posted By: t42

Re: Local wages - 04/06/10 05:04 PM

Yes it is sad that wages haven't gone up very much over the years but room rates, land, food etc. has skyrocketed.
Posted By: Cooper

Re: Local wages - 04/08/10 05:23 AM

Full time employee benefits are suppose to be paid on 35 hours a week..our employee works 28 hrs a week and we have to pay social security..holiday pay...yada yada..someones lying to you...another thing that upsets me is the practice of charging a fee for using credit cards..the Banks tell all the retailers they can not do that yet they do...we dont...results can be loosing your machine...but besides that I am grateful to be able to live here and make a good living..I dont want to be a cheater...
Posted By: ron

Re: Local wages - 04/09/10 08:03 PM

I'd prefer that companies have some control over them when it comes to safety and even wage issues. Just take the example of the Massey coal mine in West Virginia where despite numerous safety citations they still operated an unsafe mine. Not all business are as bad as this but there are enough to know I'd prefer OSHA looking over their shoulder.
Posted By: DAK

Re: Local wages - 05/09/10 06:17 PM

Does anybody know of a website that details requirements for benefits, taxes, Social Security, hours/wages, etc?
Posted By: MisterB266

Re: Local wages - 05/09/10 08:44 PM

Check the Labour & Employment section here:
http://www.belize.gov.bz/

Social Security:
http://www.socialsecurity.org.bz/AboutSSB.aspx

Income Tax:
http://www.incometaxbelize.gov.bz/
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