Seaga supports minimum wage increase
A trade union’s recent call for an increase in the national minimum wage from $9,000 per week to $15,000 is justified but could result in job losses, Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) President Metry Seaga has warned.
However, he has argued that the labour force can generally do more to make it harder for employers to cut their jobs even if the economy tightens.
Citing salaries as an index of production, Seaga said that workers have an obligation to make themselves indispensable through ongoing training and upgrading of their resumes.
“I also believe that captains of industry have the responsibility to train them. So the private sector has some work to do in that regard, to train people better.
“We also need to pay people better, but certain businesses cannot pay more than they can pay. I have spoken to many people on this issue and some feel that if the minimum wage is increased, then they will employ less because they can’t afford it,” Seaga, who was elected a week ago, said in a Gleaner interview Thursday.
“So it’s a very fine balance but it is hard for people to live with the current minimum wage and I accept that, and it’s about people taking responsibility for themselves and becoming trained and becoming experts at what they do, so that they can demand more and companies can do no better than to pay them more,” he told The Gleaner. However, for this to happen, productivity must be increased, he noted, going on to defend the worth of Jamaican workers.
“I will put a Jamaican worker who is equally trained and equally compensated against any worker from anywhere in the world. I have seen that our people can be superstars at whatever we do. So the onus is on us as business people to do the training. The onus is on us to pay people based on their productivity and one of the key areas of productivity that needs to be improved is government services.”
EFFECT OF BUREAUCRACY
In Seaga’s view, red tape and lack of productivity in the public sector remain a major hindrance for private business operators.
“The effect of bureaucracy and lack of productivity in the government agencies that cause us delays and unproductivity is tremendous and is something that needs to be addressed,” he said.
Referencing his own decades-long business experience, Seaga also went on to highlight the fact that woman are far superior workers than their male counterparts.
“I make no exception for that. As a matter of fact, in my factories, the more women that I can hire is better. I find them to be far better workers, far more productive and if you want to get something done and done really well, you give it to a woman.
“The truth is that we are a matriarchal society and we do have women in some key positions. I have heard it said but I don’t have the data that women are not represented at the board level, but yes, that needs to change and I would support a 50 to 50 woman to man ratio on boards. Yes, I think they are fantastic.”