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Would VI’s workforce drop with higher minimum wage?

One observer has expressed the opinion that any substantial increase of the Virgin Islands’ minimum wage would see a reduction in its labour force. Photo: VINO/File
Commentator, Richard Courtney de Castro, felt that employers continue to exploit the current minimum wage in the Territory. Photo: VINO/File
Commentator, Richard Courtney de Castro, felt that employers continue to exploit the current minimum wage in the Territory. Photo: VINO/File
Premier Dr The Hon. D. Orlando Smith, previously expressed agreement that the minimum wage of the Territory should be reviewed but has given no commitment to when this issue would be addressed by his government. Photo: VINO/File
Premier Dr The Hon. D. Orlando Smith, previously expressed agreement that the minimum wage of the Territory should be reviewed but has given no commitment to when this issue would be addressed by his government. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – One observer has expressed the opinion that any substantial increase of the Virgin Islands’ minimum wage would see a reduction in its labour force.

The minimum wage in the Territory currently stands at $4.00 per hour.

Commentator, Richard Courtney de Castro, while on the Speak Your Mind TV show aired on January 25, 2014 said, “I really still believe up to now if they increase the minimum wage, they’re going to have a problem finding employees.”

“Four dollars is advantage!” he remarked while noting that employers continue to exploit the current minimum wage.

“I lived in another place before and I saw them increase the minimum wage and you know what was the result?” he asked, “Everybody had to put up an ‘employees wanted’ sign on the door to try to get people to work for that.”

He argued that the VI’s market currently has an oversupply of labour and this has driven the price of labour down. “You have what you would call cheap labour and that’s why people would have to go work more than one job to try to make ends meet.”

According to de Castro, while there have been cost of living adjustments over the last twenty years within the Virgin Islands, these have now gone ‘cold’.

He noted that there were two sides to the coin in that persons have expressed that any increase of the minimum wage would force an increase of the prices of goods ‘too high’, while another school of thought holds that people currently receiving the minimum wage ‘can’t even live on the minimum wage’.

Co-host, Julio Sam Henry, related that an employer had previously explained to him that he would never run certain types of business models in the Territory because the labour cost is too high.

“He said in Panama, what somebody does here for four dollars, he could get two people to do for two dollars an hour so he can get twice the productivity,” Henry related.

Premier Dr The Hon. D. Orlando Smith, previously expressed agreement that the minimum wage of the Territory should be reviewed but has given no commitment to when this issue would be addressed by his government.

Speaking on the NDP radio programme on November 4, 2013, Dr Smith noted that employers should not be paying the minimum wage to everyone that they employ simply because it is the minimum.

“As far as the minimum wage is concerned, it is true that it should be reviewed, but I’d just like to say at the same time, that because there is a minimum wage it is not necessary that employers should be paying the minimum wage to everybody who they employ,” he stated.

16 Responses to “Would VI’s workforce drop with higher minimum wage?”

  • raise up the pay or else (29/01/2014, 09:05) Like (26) Dislike (0) Reply
    how is it that they aint raising the wages of the firefighters(airport) have them working holidays and aint paying the double time, how can a officer raise a family and still try to save tell me how to bugget this is the same resaon why crime high imagine working every 2 weeks and collecting $750 after deductions come out and u have rent at 800 light goinh between 90- to 120 when u already pool the months pay u have nothing cause u still have to feed ya self and your family nothing to save but 20 dollars now its only by faith we living and aint going thief or kill to make it but u never know what would happen when u have to feed ya kids cause parents aint ming being hungy but kids have to eat so NDP VIP stop the bull and make life a lil better cause out here we paying for all the fun things that yall have and need but we the taxpayers hurting while yall eating big and your family never have to worry about the 15th or the 30th of every month!
    • Caramel (29/01/2014, 09:33) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
      I endorse this post. Only by Gods grace I survive, and Having to leave my family home in the evening to attend a second job.
  • so right (29/01/2014, 10:06) Like (6) Dislike (2) Reply
    you are absolutely right. I am a mother and wife who had her own business on Tortola and now work a regular job for $6 my hour. I don't understand how this government can do this to there own people. the high heads feel they should get top dollar like the politicians in the US. but they don't help there own people like the US helps there people. government here needs more assistance for the people who cant make ends meet within reason. im not talking about SSD giving a mother a box of food once in awile. im talking monthly contributions for food, living, education, ect.. stop trying to be so much like the US and not implement what really works for them but what you think might work for us and then doesn't.......
    • wtf? (29/01/2014, 11:51) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
      The US can help their people because they pay 30% and higher in income taxes and also pay environmental tax, sales tax and other fees. That's why they can help the needy. Here we pay a whopping 8% taxes, no sales taxes, free school, free college, free medical in some instances, petty contracts, major contracts, permanent employment, free 100% non-contributory pension scheme. Does the US have all those freebs? NO!! So in essence, our Government are taking care of people they just too blind and caught up to realize it. Name another country with such low rate of taxes, high employment of locals that 'take care' of its people. When you want to compare, you should compare across the board not picking out the little pieces that you want. Government everywhere in the world makes their money from Taxation. If you want more then the ones who have need to pay more, simple. You cannot expect low/no tax/contributions but more 'assistance'. US also prints money, what do we print here besides T-shirts and Corporate documentation? Wake up and keep off the kool aid. The BVI is not a power unto themselves. We are a tiny nation at the mercies of the bigger ones and should be glad despite teh global happenings we still have jobs to 'complain' about.
      • gerry (29/01/2014, 13:08) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
        Thank you!! They want blood out of stone as usual. Pay little income taxes, little land and house taxes (compared to the US) and all they want to do is complain. There may be very legit reasons for raising the minimum wage and we need it addressed. But one hand cant clap without the other, impossible!
  • vex (29/01/2014, 10:10) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
    Most business are struggling where would they get the extra cash
    • sense (29/01/2014, 12:25) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
      They don't care about that, they just want. Raise minimum wage, the businesses paying the extra will add the extra. Simple. People need to understand where money comes from, it doesn't drop off tamarind trees nor is it printed down at the complex. sheesh. The BVI EC Bill alone have some businesses on edge and one bill away from closing shop. raise minimum wage = more efficiency and less actual jobs. People being paid more will be expected to do more.
  • No Patching (29/01/2014, 11:42) Like (4) Dislike (10) Reply
    The NDP is the business class they have no regards for poor workers the VIP is the party of the working class
    • ha (29/01/2014, 15:21) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      The Vip is for the working 'ass' you mean. Here people are asking for breaks, assistance which all = money. Name one initiative that the VIP has put forward to raise revenue. Not one! Every single word out their mouth is spend, but nothing about revenue. They plan to thief? You work for $2,000 a month, tell me how you support a $4,000 a month lifestyle unless you stealing. Some things are simple common sense and not everyone is a jackass like u might think.
  • END OF TIMES (29/01/2014, 11:44) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    I totally understand everyone's concerns about hard times, and of course I am not exempted. However, if we be fair and willing, we will refer back to the BIBLE where we will see that such MUST happen. My prayer is that all would look to the KING of kings and the LORD of lords for truly only HE can help us and bring us through these times.
  • think about it (29/01/2014, 15:28) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    we spend most of the little bit of money we make overseas,,, why? because with the little income we cant afford tortola cost of living.... WE HAVE TO THINK OF IT AS A CYCLE. WE GET PAID MORE MONEY THEN WE WILL BE ABLE TO SPEND MORE OF OUR MONEY IN THE BVI AND WITH THAT THE MONEY WILL CIRCULATE AND NOT LEAVE THE COUNTRY.... We worrying bout business owners.. the whole reason why business is so slow is because we cant afford it... i personally order online and shop off island for mostly everything i own that is because i aint got a big job and i cant aford tola expensive living.... so YES THE MINIMUM WAGE NEED TO BE RAISE... RENT RAISING!! GAS RAISING!! COST OF LIVING RAISING!! BUT WE POCKETS STAYING THE SAME.... ITS LIKE EVERYTHING GOIN LEAVE OUR POCKETS BEHIND!!
    • Hmmm (30/01/2014, 12:54) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      Do some research on Bermuda and cost of living. Any tiny Territory that has to import everything of course the cost of living will be high. Also if you import something from overseas yourself, of course it will be cheaper than the store. You pay for it, pay duty, take it home. The business has to pay for it, pay duties, pay transportation, pay staff to stock, pay staff to work the business, pay cleaners, pay security, pay light bill, pay water bill, pay social security, pay payroll tax, pay medical and other expenses. Explain how a business could ever bring something cheaper from overseas than you can. If it saves people money, nobody can stop you from going overseas, everyone does it at some point. But stop trying to compare because it's not a fair comparison. An individual does not have nowhere near the overhead costs that a commercial operation has.
  • Just saying (29/01/2014, 16:23) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    While I too agree that the minimum wage in the V.I. is due for review, I do not think it should be across the board meaning, I think there should be a job classification process whereby there is a minimum and maximum by law for each job catagory and if the Employer chooses to pay higher than stated amount so be it but not less. There will always be advantages and disadvantages to the process. I believe, I could be wrong if and when the review takes place, the figure will not be what most people will expect. If the minimum wage is raised too high for some businesses to operate, there will be a reduction in labour. The question is: what is a too high figure? Small companies may go under. Did anyone listen to President Obama's speech last evening and what did you take away from it? I think and I do agree that cost of living seems to hike daily and I do agree that we probably pay less taxes than elsewhere but I also think it is about time for us to look at contolling our on personal bills. We complain about a lot of things and having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet but what about spending money just to be with the in-crowd? to buy the latest gadgets for ourselves and our children? those same gadgets are updated every few months and then we want the latest model. Buying the name brand clothes and shoes and that don't make us look better, we are still the same people inside them. Don't get me wrong, People do as they please. I don't condemn nor do I envy but if we were to live a little more frugal, life might just be a lil better. I am hurting also but some one tells me the same thing and I must agree it makes a whole lot of sense. We have no control over our income but we have control over our expenses. So my Brothers and Sisters let us look at our lifestyles more closely and make the neccessary adjustments. I could go on and on but peace out.
  • J w (29/01/2014, 21:22) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    40 hours a week x $4.00 =$160 00x12%tax/s . S=$19.20=$140.80x4weeks=$563.20 Tell me who can survive/live on that in these B V I People get real THIS IS MODERN DAY SLAVERY Only in d bee wee iiio
  • Exercise Patience (30/01/2014, 10:25) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    The revision of the minimum wage is not going to be a simple walk in the park. I would caution everyone to exercise patience. While it is a burning issue, there is a lot of research to be done by the formed committee. One of the most critical piece to the puzzle is the census information which can't be finalized. It is easy to say raise the minimum wage but the after effects could do more harm than good to the same low income bracket earners. For example, when some employees who may be on a work permit are given an increase in pay, their new rate lands them in a higher rate for the said work permit and therefore the increase is useless to them. On the other hand, when the minimum wage is raised to let's say $7.00/hour for argument sake don't you think those Employers/Business persons will up their prices to absorb that increase? Who then suffers? The same low income earners. There needs to be a well thought out process for this case and not like the Labour Code as King Henry sang: A comb without teeth!
  • No water in the pool (30/01/2014, 21:40) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    You pay people more. They spend more, entire country (private and public sectors) flourish.. trivial economics

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