Government has been asked to raise the minimum wage to $25.
The request was made by Opposition leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who said that the $25 per hour increase should be coupled with the removal of VAT on all food items.
In a release on Wednesday, she said the current minimum wage is not livable.
“At $17.50 per hour over a 40-hour work week, this works out to $2800 per month. This amount is less than the old age pension maximum of $3000 per month.”
Persad-Bissessar said $25 per hour over a 40-hour work week will translate to at least $4000 monthly.
She said, “While this will still need improving to become a livable wage as it is still not commensurate with the increases in the cost of living over the past seven years, it still makes accommodation for the plight of the business community who have also been under increasing pressure.
“In the last eight years, tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs while others are working on 2013 wages, resulting in their inability to properly feed their families, including the children and elderly. Many businesses have also folded due to lack of payments from government agencies, crime and inordinately long Covid regulations,” she added.
Persad-Bissessar said that disturbing reality is matched by continuous increases in the prices of food, with some items costing between 50 and 100 per cent more than they did in 2016. In addition, the costs of housing, transportation, food, medication, fuel and education have steadily risen while the minimum wage remains stagnant.
She said against those troubling circumstances, the Government has an urgent responsibility to act and ease the financial burdens on our already stressed society.