Monday , December 5 2022

First Chamber questions rise minimum wage

The Daily Herald writes that the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament is questioning the decision of Dutch Minister of Social Affairs and Labour Jetta Klijnsma to only approve a limited increase of the minimum wage in Saba, even after her letter from two weeks ago.
The Senate’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations discussed government’s poverty policy in the Caribbean Netherlands earlier this week and decided that it would send a letter to the State Secretary to express its concerns and to raise a few questions. The Committee asked for an explanation as to why the State Secretary didn’t heed the wish of employers on Saba and the Saba Government to increase the minimum wage to US $5.50 per hour. Klijnsma decided in December last year that she would increase the minimum wage to US $4.96 per hour, 7.5 per cent more than the old minimum wage.
The State Secretary argued that she didn’t want to raise the minimum wage to the level that the local employers and government had requested, because she wanted to wait until she had received all relevant information and statistics on the economic development. In a letter to the Second Chamber two weeks ago, Klijnsma stated that the recent increase of Saba’s minimum wage contributed to preventing abuse of employees and poverty. This also because the higher minimum wage results in higher social allowances, such as unemployment allowance “onderstand” and the pension allowance AOV, which went up by 6.1 per cent
The Senate pointed out to the State Secretary that had she decided to go along with the wish of Saba’s Executive Council and the local employers, the social allowances would have subsequently increased even more which in turn would “improve the situation of the poorest groups.”
The Committee stated that it was happy to note the State Secretary’s acknowledgement that poverty exists in the Dutch public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, especially among the elderly and families with children. Worried about poverty among the elderly on the islands, the Committee asked Klijnsma to look into the possibility to disconnect the link between height of the minimum wage and the AOV, so the latter allowance could be increased without raising the minimum wage. The Committee also asked the State Secretary to check whether it was possible to give the 30 per cent single elderly a higher AOV. The Committee wanted to know how many residents of the islands had a standard of living “below the level that is considered acceptable in the Kingdom” and asked the Dutch Government how it would solve this situation as soon as possible. The Senate is in favour of introducing a children’s allowance (kinderbijslag) in the Caribbean Netherlands as this would help to eradicate poverty. The Committee stated that it was unclear why the Dutch Government didn’t implement this allowance when the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) pointed out in its 2013 report on children’s rights in the Caribbean Netherlands that urgent attention is needed for poverty among children. “A child allowance would directly benefit this group and would somewhat lessen the pain for families that are dependent on social welfare, of which the level is unacceptably low according to European Netherlands standards,” Committee Chairlady Marijke Linthorst stated in her letter. The Caribbean Netherlands has a system which provides for a children’s reduction in paying taxes, but this doesn’t provide relief for low-income groups, the Committee concluded.

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