Opposition leader and leader of the UNC, Kamla Persad Bissessar speaking at a news conference held at her Siparia constituency office, Penal. -Photo by Lincoln Holder
OPPOSITION LEADER Kamla Persad-Bissessar has called on Government to increase the minimum wage to $25 an hour, and to remove Value Added Tax (VAT) from all food.
In a release sent to the media, Persad-Bissessar said the current wage, $17.50, over a 40-hour week would work out to $2,800 per month, less than the old age pension maximum of $3,000.
“In the midst of growing poverty and hardship in Trinidad and Tobago, the government must, as a matter of priority, raise the minimum wage,” Persad-Bissessar said. “A working man or woman cannot sustain a proper quality of life at the current minimum wage rate.”
She said tens of thousands of people have lost jobs over the past eight years, while others are working on salaries that are not up to date, which results in citizens’ inability to feed their families properly.
“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 in 2016,” she said. “The costs of housing, transportation, food, medication, fuel and education have steadily risen while the minimum wage remains stagnant.”
In 2014, then Finance Minister Larry Howai implemented a $15/hour minimum wage, an increase from $12.50/hour. Then in 2019 Finance Minister Colm Imbert raised the wage to $17.50/hour.