President of the Public Services Association (PSA) Leroy Baptiste is hoping that Government will introduce economic policies that will close the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
With the national budget being presented this afternoon, Baptiste told the media that public officers have been living pay cheque-to-pay cheque and on borrowed funds, and are unable to meet their daily expenses.
He said in that regard, “one can only hope that the Government reckons that they are treating unfairly with public officers and that in this budget, they would have made some kind of allowance.”
“Public officers are the lowest rod on the economic ladder. The Government depends on the public officer who knows that, without them, there is nothing that could be done. If public officers could have taken strike action, then the Government will have to shut down. That’s the importance of public officers,” he added.
Baptiste said he was in full support of the minimum wage being increased from $17.50 per hour, so that citizens can take better care of themselves.
“The minimum wage, where it is currently, and even the kind of figures that are being bandied about, would still be such that workers who work at that level will not be able to take care of themselves and their families,” he said.
“This whole country is suffering as a result of this widening of the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
“We have the rise in crime and criminality purely because persons are not interested in working in the formal economy and they are being attracted to an informal economy to try to make ends meet,” he said.
“Why? Because in the formal economy, with the salaries being paid people are unable to meet their basic needs, like being able to purchase food, provide a shelter, take care of their family. Even with all the proposals that are being made, whether $25 or $$30, the increase in the minimum wage is far removed from becoming a living wage,” Baptiste said.
“What is living wage? It’s one that allows you to provide a shelter for yourself, you’re able to supply food and you’re able provide an environment where you can benefit from the education system and the like,” he explained.
A Sunday Express report yesterday claims that the Finance Minister Colm Imbert is expected to announce a $2 increase in the minimum wage during today’s budget presentation.
However, Baptiste said he believed a $19.50 minimum wage would not translate into any “real improvement” in workers’ circumstances.