Hundreds of thousands of workers to be impacted; another 37K to get back pay this winter
PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO — After months of deliberation and debate, the government has decided to officially raise the national minimum wage.
The nation now joins several Caribbean countries that have likewise raised their minimum wage or implemented a minimum wage for the first time in light of the increasing cost of living.
Trinbagonian Minister of Finance Colm Imbert made the announcement in the House of Representatives this week during debate on the 2024 budget.
“I propose to increase the minimum wage by 17 percent, or $3 per hour, from $17.50 to $20.50 per hour…effective from January 1, 2024,” he said.
This amount is noticeably lower than the $30 minimum wage local unions and the official opposition were pushing for during the months leading up to this.
However, Minister Imbert said it is expected that the increase will help improve the financial standing of some 200,000 people in the country.
“For those who currently work a 12-hour shift at the minimum wage for a six-day week, like some security guards, this will increase their monthly take-home pay by over $900 per month,” he said.
In a later social media post, the minister added that he was “happy to finally be able, after eight years of economic strain, to present a budget with no new taxes or increases and instead to be able to help people at the lowest end of the income scale.”
Immediate increase for civil servants
In addition to the general increase to take effect on January 1, 2024, some 37,000 public workers can look forward to an immediate increase and a pleasant Christmas bonus of backpay.
This applies to the public workers who had agreed to an earlier negotiation of a four per cent increase, who will be receiving their new wages immediately.
Further, Imbert said, “I’m also giving these workers an undertaking that all ministries and agencies involved will be provided with the necessary funds to pay this $1 billion in backpay by Christmas 2023, and I’m requesting all permanent secretaries and accounting officers to immediately start preparing the paperwork to achieve this deadline for these payments.”
More locals to be hired for police jobs in Trinidad
Minister Imbert also hinted that more Trinbagonians will be poised to benefit from the new minimum wage next year.
He noted that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service will be authorized to increase its maximum number of recruits from 300 to 1,000 next year, more than tripling the number of new employees it can hire.