Minimum wage to increase, pensioners to get Cola

POSTED: 12/20/12 5:23 PM

St. Maarten -An increase in the minimum wage of up to13 guilders or more is expected in early January based on an indexation proposal that the Minister of Labour and Social Development Cornelius de Weever has forwarded to the Social Economic Council. Yesterday de Weever made the announcement at the Council of Ministers press conference, adding that he hopes that the government will be able to get an advice before the end of the year so that by the New Year the adjustments can be made.

He did not remain to field questions on the indexation but Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams explained that gradual increases of the minimum wage should have taken place annually in accordance with the law.

“It has not taken place over the last couple of years and I think percentage wise it comes down to approximately 14 percent. In guilders and cents it is approximately a guilder difference per hour.”

The minimum wage currently stands at 7.96 guilders per hour. This came into effect as of January 1, 2008. Retroactive increases for the last five years will therefore be added to total the 2013 increase.

“It is going to go into effect. It is going to be indexed on the basis of what it is so it will automatically be at where it should be for the year 2013,” the Prime Minister added.

According to the National Ordinance Minimum Wages there are however certain payments that do not fall under the category of wages.
These include earnings from overtime work, vacation bonuses, profit payments, payments on special occasions, payments pursuant to claims to receive one or more payments after the passing of time or under a condition, compensation to the extent they are considered to serve to cover necessary expenses, which the employee must incur in connection with his employment and special compensation for breadwinners and heads of family.

According the department of Labour Affairs, the basic salary without all of these special payments or compensations must be equal to or higher than the minimum wage.

This announcement is a welcome relief for employees based on the rising cost of living but reactions from employers thus far have been mixed.

The Cost of Living Adjustment for pensioners will be paid before the end of this week, Finance Minister Roland Tuitt said yesterday.

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