Got TIPS or BREAKING NEWS? Please call 1-284-442-8000 direct/can also WhatsApp same number or Email ALL news;                               ads call 1-284-440-6666

Some 60% VI public servants considered ‘working poor’- Premier Wheatley

- close to $10M allocated in 2024 Budget to address minimum wage
A review of the Virgin Islands (VI) minimum wage is underway to improve wages for persons specifically in the public service referred to as the ‘working poor” in the territory according to Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) in his 2024 Budget Speech delivered today’s November 21, 2023. Photo: HoA/Facebook
Premier Dr the Hon Natalio D. Whealtey said public servants must be released from this frustration and hopelessness where the inadequacies of the current compensation system have been highlighted in several reviews over the past two decades, with no action on those reports. Photo: VINO/File
Premier Dr the Hon Natalio D. Whealtey said public servants must be released from this frustration and hopelessness where the inadequacies of the current compensation system have been highlighted in several reviews over the past two decades, with no action on those reports. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI– An adjustment of the Virgin Islands (VI) minimum wage is underway to improve wages for persons specifically in the public service, referred to as the ‘working poor” in the territory by the Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7), in his 2024 Budget Speech delivered on November 21, 2023.

Under the theme ‘Planning, Priorities & Progress - Building a Sustainable Nation’, Premier Wheatley presented a budget totalling $399,838,963 for 2024.

The Premier in his Budget Speech delivered at the Eileene L. Parsons Auditorium at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) campus in Paraquity Bay, Tortola, said the PWC Compensation Review and Job classification report, which was recently accepted by Cabinet, reported that an analysis of current salaries to the living wage for a single-person household revealed that the median salary for grades 1-3 public officer is below the living wages, which is some 17.3% of Government employees in the VI.

Minimum wage inadiquate - Premier Wheatley 

He said wages for grades 4-6 level workers also leave limited opportunities for upward social mobility, savings, settling debts, and more including investments, and emergencies with 46.2% of government employees in that level.

In assessing the situation, the Premier said a minimum wage was represented to be $23,719.80 per annum as the cost for a single-person household to live a basic but decent life in the VI inclusive of food, housing, education, healthcare, transportation, clothing and other essentials for a family, including unexpected events, is inadequate.

“And these costs reflect local items and prices for 2021-2022 as reported by the BVI Central Statistics Office. Madam Speaker, it is unacceptable for approximately 60% of our public officers to be working poor with the hope of being able to meet their basic needs, their bills, or to save not just for a rainy day but to advance their social conditions”.

He added that the public servants must be released from this frustration and hopelessness where the inadequacies of the current compensation system have been highlighted in several reviews over the past two decades, with no action on those reports. 

Solutions 'known' but never implemented - Premier 

“The solutions to these problems have been known and the Government is committed to ensuring that the current compensation review and job classification exercise will be brought into action." 

The Premier said that with a commitment to ensure no public officer will be earning less than the living wage, the Government has allocated close to $10 million in the budget to achieve this goal. 

“We have budgeted the money on this year's budget to implement the revised compensation and classification scheme. We have decided to move forward with the implementation because we know public officers should be paid what they deserve. We know that the cost of living is high and many of the meager salaries could not handle it,” he said.

21 Responses to “Some 60% VI public servants considered ‘working poor’- Premier Wheatley ”

  • consumer protection (22/11/2023, 08:37) Like (42) Dislike (2) Reply
  • Hmm (22/11/2023, 08:41) Like (39) Dislike (0) Reply
    In this economy, you will need at least a salary of $3000 monthly to live some what comfortably. My definition of comfortably is not living pay cheque to pay cheque, having some sort of savings after all the bills are paid. I know for a fact the minimum wage will not raise to reflect that. Groceries are very expensive, where is the consumer protection law. What about food stamps? These supermarkets are coming out with sale almost every other week. But guess what, its just rotten food and scraps we are getting most times. The price of gas, why is it still high? Rent over the top. $1600 for a 1 bedroom? Ridiculous because a lot of people either making 1600 or less. Loans are the hardest things to get because they look at your salary and your expenses and thats a dead case right there for most people. Everything is very expensive in this place. The only how you could survive is if you stay at home everyday, dont get any kids, and eat tuna and bread for 3 meals a day. At this point the inmates at HMP eating better than most people. It would really be nice if the BVI can become a flourishing place. People should be able to buy land, build houses whether board house or concrete house, travel, start up honest businesses but of course to do all of this capital is needed. The only people flourishing are the rich and the drug dealers. Not only the people need to flourish, but the country itself. Fix the damn infrastructure, education system, tourism system and agriculture and fishing system. I love my country but right now living in the BVI is very depressing for the common man.
    -Written by an honest 22 year old, seeing and hearing lots of struggles
    • Hmm (Continued) (22/11/2023, 20:54) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      I have a new challenge. How about government ministers live on minimum wage for a 3 months or even the $1,976.65 Showande mentioned above. No allowances, no advances, no assistance, no access to savings. Live pay check to pay check like majority of the BVI’s population. Because it seems as though they cannot understand that the minimum wage needs to be raised across the board and the cost of living issues needs to be addressed. Maybe that will help them to realize why everybody is crying.

      Also, what about the wages being regulated by business/profits. Because i cant see why certain firms who make millions annually or semi annually cannot pay their staff a decent wage (speaking for the private sector) Small businesses is understandable, but a muliti-million dollar company? Some of these million dollars companies dont even have much staff and yet salaries might be less than $30,000 every month excluding what the boss takes home for himself plus the NHI, SS, and Tax the companies do not pay in.
  • El Demonio Negro (22/11/2023, 08:49) Like (16) Dislike (5) Reply
    These people on this island are morons. They elect not one humble individual that remember how it feels to not be compensated properly. Who remember having education but still not receiving a fare salary. They elect these rich affluent people to HELP POOR PEOPLE LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL. The slowest voting public I've ever witnessed you all deserve to be broke cause your brain sure is LOLOLOLOL suffer like dawgs that's how your elected officials view you LOL.
    • @El Demonio Negro (22/11/2023, 12:09) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
      If I were near you I would’ve give you a kiss on the cheek. People here are some of the biggest morons with a capital M. The elected ones they keep electing back to back don’t give a damn about any of you guys. There pockets is good. The rich feeds off the poor like vultures. The ministers/bishops or what ever you choose to call them is feeding off the poor church members like vultures as well. If a major catastrophe hit this Island, watch how fast the above mentioned and their families will be flying out of dodge on the chartered private jets and the have nots will be left behind with their mouths open mumbling what about meee? NO ROOM FOR YOU!!!!. NO ROOM ON THIS FLIGHT. If you disagree with my comment, fine and Thank You. Stop being MORONS.
      • @@El Domonio Negro (22/11/2023, 14:30) Like (6) Dislike (3) Reply
        This place has gone from worse to worse errr. Don’t pay them any mind when they are on the talk shows yaking about they care about the people and doing for the people. BS! ALL SMOKE, MIRROS & ILLUSION. You can see and hear something but do you believe what you see and hear? You see the deplorable roads, the bushes is B…H slapping or scratching up vehicles and please don’t have your windows roll down cause the bushes will tear the side of your face up. Something as simple as putting a bush cutting service in place is confusion. Why is children in such a small place going to bed or school hungry? Why is the potholes not being fixed. Why is no one fighting tooth and nail to raise the minimum wage? Why is no one fighting for consumer protection to protect the people from the astronomical food prices or other goods? You go into the supermarket this week, the price is say eight dollars for the item, Next week the price jump to ten dollars for the same item.
        • Undercover Observer (22/11/2023, 16:04) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
          To @@El Demonio Negro, your blog has a nexus to comments to Dickson Igwe’s commentary, “ Capital will always run things” ( I paraphrased the title on the commentary)on this site last weekend. One of the bloggers made a salient and interesting point about extractive economic and political institutions, and inclusive economic and political institutions. The conclusion was that the type of institution whether extractive or inclusive is a factor in how a country is run and is progressing. Take a peek at the commentary.
  • Stop It (22/11/2023, 10:00) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    people suffering under you and only whr@@S prospering because of you....look at what they woman do, and she damn arrogant with it....taht is the straw that break the camel's back enuff and you and your BS. will go no further is pure hell

    You cannot remain there I say CANNOT
  • Dollarwise (22/11/2023, 10:04) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Why is the man in the picture dressed like an undertaker ?
  • wondering (22/11/2023, 10:27) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
    Those on Social Security are eating dirt. It seems Social Security monies are for all kinds of things, but not for those who paid in faithfully. Please stop starving those on Social Security.
  • NB (22/11/2023, 10:55) Like (14) Dislike (1) Reply
    More than 50% of the public servants are very very rude and often times disrespectful. When you approach them it seems like you are disturbing them from TikTok or a movie, looking down at you as if you are begging for service. Change your behaviour and attitude towards the people you serve then maybe you can say you are deserving of a good salary. I said it!
  • Socrates (22/11/2023, 11:26) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    Just a few basic questions?
    1. Is government still paying some of its public sector employees the minimum wage of $6.00 per hour?
    2. How many public sector employees are earning $6 per hour? How many in the overall workforce are earning $6 per hour?
    3. What is average employers are paying above the minimum wage?
    4. What minimum wage rate is government considering and how many of the workforce would be impacted ?
    5. The cost of living is exponentially and is in the stratosphere, is it not?
    6. Will increasing minimum wage result in merchants raising prices? What is government plan, if any, to counter this?
    7. Another blogger suggested a temporary Universal Basic income ( UBI) means tested cost of living allocation. Is this something government is considering?
    8. Is price control Government agenda?
    9. What consumer protection measures can government take?
    • Undercover Observer (22/11/2023, 15:33) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      To Socrates, as always you pose very relevant questions but I doubt policy makers will pay you any mine and proceed on their merry way. What is this Universal Basic Income (UBI) thing you mention? Can you elaborate on it, if possible?

      The cost of living is already sky high but as true as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and if and when government raises the minimum wage, which probably will impact a few workers, businesses, landlords, etc , will raise prices? This will put more pressure and stress on cosumers, especially those at the lowest rung of the economic. What actions are government anticipating to take to counter this action which historically has occurrd anything consumers get an increase in pay, ie, inflation, COLA, wage increase, etc. Further, what type of hiring will be slowed or layoffs occur due to the increasing the minimum wage.
  • RedStorm (22/11/2023, 11:53) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    It beholds me, to conclude it is very expensive to be poor in this country.
    • @redstorm (22/11/2023, 14:47) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      I have said the same thing over and over. You are poor in this Country, your dog is dead.There are only to class in the BVI, THE HAVES AND THE HAVE NOTS. I know of a Senior who have worked all her life, paid into Social Security and you F’s only give that Senior $300.00 lousy dollars to live on for the month. I and I will repeat, go into my pockets and assist her every month with groceries and her other personal items that she may need. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.
  • Norris Turnbull (22/11/2023, 13:07) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    Pensiones are retired poor also
  • WOW (22/11/2023, 13:33) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    So instead of putting some effort into lowering the cost of living, he increases civil servants pay, thereby increasing the weight on the backs of the people and think that's the answer? Wow!
  • I keep saying (22/11/2023, 15:06) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    They are vultures picking a pound of flesh off the poor in this Country everyday until they hit bone. PEOPLE, I will never mention this again. IT IS TIME TO HIT THE STREETS, JOIN HANDS AND PROTEST OR WE WILL BE FLOATING DEAD IN THE HARBOR.
    • RedStorm (23/11/2023, 13:59) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      @ I keep saying,
      Protesting does not bring results, it’s ole school and the government can easy walk away and not acknowledge it. Now, make an appointment with a group of young people and a few older folks and dialogue with the premier and other , let them see your face, so they can keep their words.
  • English please (22/11/2023, 16:23) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    What is "inadiquate?"
  • Bush Professor (22/11/2023, 18:17) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Governments typically creates the framework for businesses and industries to create national employment opportunities. However, in small locales as the Virgin Islands (VI) [British] with small economies, there is a heavy dependence on government to provide direct employment opportunities. Most of the other regional sister Anglophone countries governments are also expected to provide direct employment. The VI government is a major employer, directly employing approximately 3,000 people from the approximate 14,000 national workforce. Additionally, there is also a heavy dependence on government to provide construction and service contracts, providing indirect employment. Is this sustainable? There is much talk about diversifying the economy to provide greater opportunities, choice in employment, along with relieving the pressure on government to by necessity be a major employer. But diversifying the economy is a work in progress.

    There have been numerous assumptions that the BVI civil service is bloated and needs to be trimmed either by regular retirement, early retirement incentives, resignations, hiring freezes, restructuring job descriptions, etc. Whatever happened to the employment study which was allegedly conducted several years ago but has yet to see daylight. Clearly, the BVI is small with a small economy, coupled with government being a major employer; therefore no politician is going to actively advocate to cut the civil service, knowing that a few votes can swing an election. Nonetheless, 41% of a $400, 000, 000 Operations and Maintenance Budget, being allocated for labour on the surface seems prcey and high.What was not clear from the numbers if it were inclusive of retirees compensation.

Create a comment

Create a comment

Disclaimer: Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) welcomes your thoughts, feedback, views, bloggs and opinions. However, by posting a blogg you are agreeing to post comments or bloggs that are relevant to the topic, and that are not defamatory, liable, obscene, racist, abusive, sexist, anti-Semitic, threatening, hateful or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be excluded permanently from making contributions. Please view our declaimer above this article. We thank you in advance for complying with VINO's policy.

Follow Us On

Disclaimer: All comments posted on Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) are the sole views and opinions of the commentators and or bloggers and do not in anyway represent the views and opinions of the Board of Directors, Management and Staff of Virgin Islands News Online and its parent company.