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Published 16th March 2015, 1:46pm

History was made on Friday 6th March, 2015, with the Minimum Wage Advisory Committee (MWAC) submitting their final report to Hon. Tara Rivers, Minister of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs. Established as required under Section 21 of the Labour Law, this Committee and the work undertaken and completed was the first of its kind for the country. In addition, the MWAC has completed its task within a very commendable timeframe of 9 months (June 2014 - February 2015).

The "Report on Establishing a Minimum Wage Regime in the Cayman Islands" is over 100 pages long (not including the Executive Summary and supporting Annexes) and contains the full details of the MWAC's recommendations for a Minimum Wage figure and the components necessary for a Minimum Wage Regime to be implemented in the Cayman Islands.

The Chair of the Committee presented the report to the Government on Monday 9th March, 2015.

Minister Rivers congratulated the MWAC and voiced her thanks for a job well done by saying, "I would like to sincerely thank the MWAC for their diligence and perseverance in seeing this project and report through within the extremely ambitious timeframe requested by Cabinet. I would also like to thank the Chair for his stewardship of the process. The report is of a high quality and demonstrates the analysis undertaken by the committee. It will greatly assist the Government in making its final decisions." Minister Rivers went on to say, "As a country we can now finally move beyond just talking about this issue without the benefit of understanding the implications to the labour market and to those most affected, as has been done for the past several decades. As Minister, it is with pleasure that I submit the detailed report to Cabinet for Cabinet's consideration."

The report also includes the details of the extensive public consultation process carried out by the Committee which involved feedback from non-governmental organisations, focus groups, district meetings, and online and printed surveys which were taken into the field by enumerators trained through the Economics and Statistics Office. In total 2,792 people and organisations took part in the MWAC's public consultation process.

A large part of the report is supported by the advice and analysis of the MWAC's technical assistant who was provided by the International Labour Organization. Due to this exercise being the first of its kind to be conducted in the Cayman Islands, it was important for the MWAC to be guided by an experienced labour economist on the data needed to determine a minimum wage and on how other countries had gone about implementing and maintaining a minimum wage regime.

The Chair of the Committee, Mr. Lemuel Hurlston expressed his gratitude for the hard work exhibited by Committee members to complete the project within its Terms of Reference. He said, "I am delighted that this assignment was successfully completed on schedule and within budget. I am most grateful to the members of the Committee and especially to the Secretariat team who performed tirelessly to assist the work of the Committee and the writing of the final report. We must also convey appreciation to all those organisations, companies, groups and individuals who participated in the public consultations throughout the exercise."

Although the Ministry of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs had originally allocated a budget of up to CI$200,000 to cover the necessary expenses of the MWAC, the Committee is pleased to report that it only spent approximately CI$80,000 to complete its task.

Acting Chief Officer Mr. Christen Suckoo was extremely proud of the MWAC and the civil servant Ex-Officio Members who supported the committee through technical advice and administrative support. He said, "Let me officially say a big thank you to the Chair Mr. Lemuel Hurlston, and the Acting Deputy Chief Officer and MWAC Ministry Liaison, Ms. Tammy Ebanks, for your leadership and commitment in completing this project, and also to all members of the Secretariat and the Committee. Words cannot express my feelings of pride regarding the quality of this report and the work ethic displayed by all."

The Minister intends to present the Report to Cabinet and subsequently to table the report at the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly.