Citizens for Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (CURB) was delighted and encouraged to hear that legislation for a Living Wage was tabled in the House of Assembly on Friday for debate in the House in the coming weeks.
In a statement released this weekend, a spokesperson noted that “it has been two years since then Opposition member MP Rolfe Commissiong’s motion was passed with unanimous bi-partisan and historic support in the House on June 17th, 2016 for a bi-partisan Joint Select Committee to investigate the establishment of a living wage. A rare collaboration and a hope of things to come.
“Both the OBA and the PLP had the introduction of a Living Wage in Bermuda as part of their 2017 election platforms and following the election a new bi-partisan Joint Select Committee was formed with Rolfe Commissiong as Chairman and Leah Scott as Deputy Chairman.
“Public meetings and various stakeholders presented to the JSC from across the community, and CURB was one of many stakeholders to present.”
The statement continued: “The work of the JSC demonstrates the ability of bi-partisanship in making important decisions that affect the welfare of so many of Bermuda’s people, especially the 20+ percent who live in poverty even though working a 35 to 40-hour work week.
“CURB’s call for a Living Wage in Bermuda was published in its 2014 Racial Justice Platform and in early 2015 a CURB opinion piece was released to the media (attached hereto) outlining the need for a Living Wage and calling for a bi-partisan group to make recommendations that included a living wage and/or payroll tax relief for those earning less than $40,000 p.a.”
It was also noted in CURB’s 2015 opinion “that people who had previously been employed full time, had become desperate even to get part-time work”.
“With hourly wages beginning at $6 an hour, even working a 48-hour work week that is barely $15,000 p.a. gross, a farce in a country where the 2000 Census showed households earning below $36,000 p.a. as being poor with 19 percent living below the poverty line.
“In the 2008 Low Income Thresholds: A Study of Bermuda Households in Need report, the Relative Low Income Threshold was $41,132 p.a.
“The 2010 census shows that households earning less than $52,000 p.a. were below the poverty line and based on the inflation rate since 2010 these figures translate into a likely poverty line of $56,000 p.a. in 2014.
“The 2013 Bermuda Employment Survey shows that the bottom 5% of job holders (22,540 jobs) who worked 35 hours or more per week earn $21,000 p.a. or less. The bottom 10% earn $33,000 or less, and the bottom 20% earn $42,000 or less.
“Worryingly, the 2016 Census shows that disparities continue, the income gap is widening, and an increasing number of Bermudians are failing to make ends meet.
“With both parties recognizing the desperate need to introduce such legislation for the welfare of the people of Bermuda, it is therefore commendable that the bi-partisan Joint Select Committee have committed to the many meetings and hours of work necessary to bring this legislation before the House for debate.”
The statement concluded: “CURB is hopeful that the bi-partisan/collaborative approach continues in the House of Assembly when this matter is debated in the coming weeks.”