HON. D. SHANE GIBSON, M.P.,
MINISTER OF LABOUR AND NATIONAL INSURANCE
MINISTER OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE
INCREASE IN THE NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE
22ND JULY, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I am so grateful to the good people of the Golden Gates Constituency on whose shoulders I stand on today and whom I have the privilege to serve. Today, Mr. Speaker, I rise to deliver a brief, but very important communication on a decision taken by the Government to cause an increase in the National Minimum Wage.
Mr. Speaker, subsequent to the enactment of the National Tripartite Council Act 2014, on 1st June, 2015, the National Tripartite Council held its inaugural meeting. During this historic meeting, Social Partners representatives, namely the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce & Employers Confederation, the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Trade Union Congress; and the Government, discussed a number of important matters that impacted the working people of our beloved Bahamaland. This meeting, Mr. Speaker, is considered a milestone in the history of industrial relations in The Bahamas, as it marks a turning point in social dialogue and another achievement by this PLP Government.
In the Charter of Governance, Mr. Speaker, we made a covenant with the trade union movement and the working people of our country that this Perry Christie led Administration will take deliberate steps to improve the standard of living and quality of life for Bahamian workers. One of the first things we did was to institutionalize the principles of ILO Convention 144 concerning Tripartite Consultations to Promote the Implementation of International Labour Standards. I wish to remind this Honourable House that it was on 2nd March, 2015, that the Governor General, Her Excellency, Dame Marguerite Pindling, signed into law the National Tripartite Council Act, 2014 and laid another pillar in our plan towards a stronger and safer Bahamas.
Today Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to publically announce and formally communicate to Parliament that the Government of The Bahamas, acting on a recommendation from the National Tripartite Council, has taken a decision to increase the National Minimum Wage.
To this end, Mr. Speaker, and pursuant to Section 4(3) of the Minimum Wage Act, Chapter 321C of the Statute Laws of The Bahamas, I, acting in my capacity as the Minister with responsibility for Labour, signed the Minimum Wages Order to increase the minimum wage to Two Hundred and Ten dollars ($210.00) per week or Forty-two dollars ($42.00) per day or Five dollars and twenty-five cents ($5.25) per hour. This increase will become effective on 15th August, 2015, once both Houses of Parliament have affirmed a Resolution that I intend to formally move in due course.
The National Minimum Wage, Mr. Speaker, was statutorily enacted on 21st January, 2002, and effectively mandated that no person employed in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas should be paid less than One Hundred and Fifty dollars ($150.00) or Thirty dollars ($30.00) per day, or Four ($4.00) per hour.
The new minimum wage, Mr. Speaker, is a 40% increase, and while we in the government would have liked to have seen it a bit higher, we have accepted the recommendation of the National Tripartite Council and acted accordingly.
I am advised that the recommended increase came about after extensive consultation with national, regional, and international experts in the area of industrial relations. Additionally Mr. Speaker, the Social Partners, I am told, deliberated, agonized and analysed data acquired both locally and internationally, as well as it examined comparative legislation from a number of CARICOM member states, before coming to a compromise on a final figure for the new national minimum wage. It is envisioned that the Council will monitor the cost of living and the retail price index, and it is prepared to recommend additional increases to ensure that weekly wage of Bahamian workers is able to keep pace with any increase in these index.
Our research has confirmed that despite the false rumours that an increase in the minimum wage will lead to higher levels of unemployment, this notion should be rejected. In fact, Mr. Speaker, in the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States, the increase in minimum wage has had a positive effect on the growth of the economy, as persons would very quickly utilize any wage increase by purchasing goods and services thus increasing economic activity.
I wish to caution those unscrupulous employers that would try and undermine this increase and deliberately and intentionally withhold the additional wage from hard working Bahamians, that the Inspectorate Unit of the Department of Labour have been instructed to implement a comprehensive inspection plan to ensure that there is compliance, and it will aggressively pursue violators and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.
Mr. Speaker, it is with much pride and on behalf of the working people of the Bahamas that I move the following resolution:
WHEREAS section 4(2) of the Minimum Wages Act (Ch. 321B) hereinafter referred to as “the Act” provides that the Minister responsible for Labour may by order, increase the sums of minimum wages specified in section 4(1) of the Act after consultation with –
(a) a confederation being in the opinion of the Minister a confederation representative of employers and associations of employers generally; and
(b) an association of registered trade unions being an association in the opinion of the Minister representative of employees generally;
AND WHEREAS the Minister has consulted with a The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce & Employers Confederation, a confederation representative of employers and associations of employers generally, and both the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Trade Union Congress, associations of registered trade unions which are representative of employees generally;
AND WHEREAS pursuant to section 4(3) of the Act, as soon as the Minister has made a minimum wages order it shall be subject to affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this House approves the increase of the minimum wages set forth in paragraph (2) of the annexed Minimum Wages (Increase in Minimum Wages) Order, 2015, that is –
“The minimum wages shall be fixed as follows –
(a) if the employee is employed by the week the minimum wages shall be two hundred and ten dollars per week;
(b) if the employee is employed by the day the minimum wages shall be forty-two dollars per day;
(c) if the employee is employed by the hour the minimum wages shall be five dollars and twenty-five cents per hour.”
Agreement Signed! Next Foghorns and Three Times the Arrivals
#TurksandCaicos, October 13, 2021 – When the foghorns blare again at the Grand Turk Cruise Center it will be well into the Christmas season, but the scheduled arrival of the Carnival Freedom on November 28, will end a 20-month pandemic imposed pause on cruising, the economic life-blood, of the capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“We have eleven meetings since May to make this happen. I think it’s a huge, huge improvement on what we’ve had before, speaking to the value of the partnership of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government and Carnival and we look to have a long and fruitful relationship,” said Hon Washington Misick, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Turks and Caicos Islands Government today, finally inked a deal with Carnival Corporation, which appeared hinged on the cruise company being granted the green light for an expansion to berthing at the Port, which opened in 2006 on the island of Grand Turk.
The signing of a new Development Agreement followed an October 7 Cabinet approval of the document; the brief ceremony was carried live on Facebook from the Office of the Premier in Grand Turk.
“Indeed as the Premier has stated, we met 11 times and many times in person, you were in every meeting and sometimes with members of Cabinet, the Attorney General and we worked on something that we will all be proud of for many years to come,” said Giora Israel, Senior Vice President Global Port & Destination Development.
Strongly intimated, by Premier Misick, that this expansion had been stalled. Definitely stated, also by Premier Misick, it is full steam ahead for a resumption of cruising.
“We are confident that cruise ships filled with visitors will be back in time for the high season 21/22. We are not stopping there. Government is investing heavily in the improvement of the Cruise Port and infrastructure in Grand Turk including: Acquisition of a Property to be converted into a Vendors Market. $1.5m dollars has been allocated to refurbish and improve the property. Additional properties will be acquired and developed to accommodate vendors who depend on the cruise industry for their livelihood. 2-million dollars will be spent to construct a floating dock for the Water Sports Operators. We are providing up to $1 million in grants to eligible operators to help them prepare for the reopening of the Cruise Industry,” said the Premier during a National Address on September 23.
Three cruises to Grand Turk are booked for November and December 2021 and if all goes according to schedule – or better – the cruise calls on November 28, December 11, December 12 and December 26 will usher in a happier holiday season for the dozens of companies left in limbo with the crash of cruising in March 2020.
“I really want to thank our employees at the Port. We have had employees who stayed here for the last two years working hard to maintain the port,” said Mr. Israel as he acknowledged the enthusiasm shown by the TCI Government to complete the deal; he added, “But I also want to thank the Community of Grand Turk. We are a part of this community; we have been welcomed as a part of this community. The Community has embraced us and we have embraced the Community, the business community and we need to look at this as a partnership,” expressed Mr. Israel during the live stream.
Outside of cruise tourism, Grand Turk draws dive enthusiasts from around the world and is increasingly experiencing popularity in the luxury villa market. Nonetheless, these other distinctions for the island which is home to the Parliament and the Governor’s Residence, fall a distant second and third place to the thousands of cruise visitors travelling on four, five and six day itineraries; Cruising is what really brings the boom.
“We’ve had a long partnership of 20 years and this partnership is just getting better. New horizon, new opportunities and when I look at this magazine, which is a magazine we issued when the port was opened, we expected that the biggest ship would be 1,800 passengers. Within 90 days of today, we are expecting ships that will be able to carry three times the number of passengers…”
The Development Agreement gives Carnival Corporation the permissions and perimeters to begin a $25 million dock expansion project. The Turks and Caicos Cabinet informed that the signatories represented: the Crown, the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Grand Turk Cruise Terminal Ltd and Carnival Corporation.
Details of the Agreement were not revealed, therefore the scope of the expansion remains unknown. What has been made clear is upon completion of the new dock, the largest ships in Carnival’s fleet will be able to moor in Grand Turk with the high probability that cruise passenger and crew arrivals to the islands of Grand Turk and Salt Cay, will triple.
Carnival elation Dec 11
Carnival Freedom Nov 28, dec 26
Carnival freedom Dec 12
TCI Health Minister pledges Urgency is Serving Mental Health
#TurksandCaicos, October 14, 2021 – Minister of Health and Human Services, Hon. Jamell Robinson says the Government will be making increased investment to tackle the issue of mental health.
In his message for World Mental Health Day, observed under the theme “Mental Health In An Unequal World,” he said it was fitting for the focus to be on the way persons who suffer from the disorder are treated.
While noting that finances are not the only factors affecting persons living with chronic illnesses and mental health disorders, he said mental health is a fundamental element to “overall health and livelihood.
“It must be recognised and treated by all Turks and Caicos residents of the, with the same urgency as physical health. We must continue to ensure that mental health remains an important part of our public health mission-we will make certain that the mental health project that was started, is seen to completion. We will ensure that where necessary, increased funding is made available for outreach and support programmes,” the Minister said
He disclosed that a special needs support group for parents, guardians and caregiver will be implement, adding that mental issue is a “longstanding problem” that has been tackled for decades by various professionals, and it must be part of all citizens to lend support and care, where they can.
The Minister stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic has “triggered us” to ponder more about individual health and wellbeing and brought to the forefront that while some enjoy the beauties of life, others cannot.
“Not all of us have the same experience while accessing necessary services, such as healthcare, and what resonates most is the difference in health outcomes for different people, sometimes,” he outlined.
RBDF Congratulates Retired Commander Defence Force on National Honour Award
During a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street, Commodore Smith was presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith. Also in attendance were his daughter, Mrs. Italia Seymour, and the Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King.
Commodore Smith was one of sixteen other deserving individuals recognized on National Heroes Day for the vast contributions they made to the development of the country. The first Bahamian Officer to be appointed as Commander Defence Force, he is the longest-serving Commodore to serve this office from 1983 to 1997.
Throughout his military career, he received numerous awards and accolades, and his career in public life spanned over forty years, and on September 19, 2014, an RBDF Legend Class Vessel bearing his name was commissioned. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is truly grateful for the devoted services of Commodore Smith to the organization and his country.
Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King extends congratulations on his behalf of the members of his Executive Command, Officers, Senior Enlisted, and Junior Enlisted members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, to Commodore Retired Leon Smith, on his great accomplishment.
Header: Commodore Retired Leon Smith being presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.
Insert: Commodore Retired Leon Smith along with recipients of the 2021 National Honours Awards on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.
(RBDF Photos by Able Seaman Paul Rolle II)
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