Call for second increase in minimum wage rejected

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A MOVE to increase the minimum wage for the second time in a year was blocked by the States yesterday, marking a failure to meet a previous pledge made by the Assembly.

Deputy Robert Ward Picture: ROB CURRIE. (26961373)

Deputy Rob Ward’s proposition called for a second increase to £8.66 per hour in October to be introduced in addition to the already-planned uplift to £8.32 on 1 April.

He also proposed that £300,000 be provided to fund a plan to improve productivity in low-pay sectors before the end of 2020.

But his proposals were rejected by 21 votes to 16 and 24 votes to 14 by Members.

Outlining his proposals, Deputy Ward said that they were a ‘positive opportunity’ to reduce income inequality and meet previous commitments made by Members in 2018 for the minimum wage to reach 45% of average earnings by this year.

‘This two-stage increase meets the advice of the Employment Forum and meets targets voted for in this Assembly,’ he said

He added that investing in productivity in low-paid sectors would reduce the need to spend money on income support.

Deputy Scott Wickenden opposed the proposition and said that the Assembly should seek expert advice, such as from the Employment Forum, before setting a new minimum-wage level at its own discretion.

St John Constable Chris Taylor said that the States should support industries, such as tourism and agriculture, which opposed the double increase, while Assistant Chief Minister Richard Buchanan said that the increase was ‘too quick’ and businesses needed ‘breathing space’ to absorb the additional costs, which could lead to staff cuts or price rises.

‘We don’t want people to lose their jobs, especially those on lower-paid jobs,’ he said.

Senator Kristina Moore said she had heard from employers that they were finding it difficult to find staff and that ‘pay inflation’ [wage increases] was already happening in lower-wage sectors.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath

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