Peter Phillips

PNP Leader Flip Flops On Minimum Wage Increase

Neika Lewis reports.

Opposition Leader, Dr. Peter Phillips’ move to downplay the potential for disruption to businesses which a sharp increase in the minimum wage may cause, directly contradicts assertions he made when he was Finance Minister in the previous PNP administration.

During his message on New Years Day this year, Phillips repeated a call made 4 years ago by then Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw, for an increase in the minimum wage to approximately 12-thousand dollars per week.

During his address on January 1 this year, Dr. Phillips cited the devaluation of the Jamaican dollar and called for a sharp increase in the minimum wage.

Some public commentators including, Helene Davis Whyte have responded to the call by Dr. Phillips, noting the potential for major job losses and disruption to the operation of businesses.

During an interview a few days ago on Television Jamaica, Dr. Phillips rejected the criticism and said there’s no evidence to support the concerns raised about potential for major disruption to the operation of businesses if the minimum wage is raised to approximately 12-thousand dollars.

But checks by our newscenter found that on January 26, 2016, Dr. Phillips had used the very same concerns now being raised by some stakeholders about a potential sharp increase in the minimum wage to reject a call by Audley Shaw for an increase in the weekly minimum wage to approximately 12-thousand dollars.

On that day 4 years ago, while speaking in the House of Representatives, Opposition Spokesman Shaw had called for the PNP-administration to as soon as possible set a target of 12- thousand dollars per week minimum wage and work towards it.

Responding during the same sitting of the House, Dr. Phillips cautioned Mr. Shaw and cited the potential for major disruption to businesses if the minimum wage is increased to approximately 12- thousand dollars per week.

Meantime ..Labour Minister, Shahine Robinson, has declined to comment at this time on the debate about the minimum wage.

Minister Robinson told our news center last night that she’s unable to comment yet because an additional review of the minimum wage is taking place.

In 2017, Minister Robinson announced a 13 percent increase in the minimum wage from approximately $6,000 dollars per week to $7,000.

It’s understood that the Government intends to announce this year a further increase.

Abka Fitz-Henley is a multiple award-winning journalist who is currently the Senior Reporter at Nationwide News Network (NNN). His primary areas of focus are Court, Crime and Parliamentary proceedings. Fitz-Henley was recently recognized in the regional celebrity magazine publication Panache as “The Breaking News Boss”. At 21 years of age, following his 1st year in media, Fitz-Henley was recognized with the Young Journalist of the year award from The Press Association of Jamaica and went on to cop one of the country’s highest recognized journalism prizes, the Journalist of the Year Award. He’s also been awarded the prestigious Corporate Jamaica Broilers Fairplay 1st place Award for investigative journalism and is the recipient of the Caribbean Blog Award for coverage of the infamous Kartel murder trial. Fitz-Henley is also the recipient of the PM Youth Award for Excellence. Over the years, he has appeared as a guest on the BBC World Service and BBC London.

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