This week on What the People Say, we asked persons to comment on the $35,000 minimum wage recently set by the government.

Photos and interviews
by Shabna Ullah

20130624dosleyDosley Nicholson, carpenter
`It is very hard on workers at this time to earn such a low wage. I feel that they should get something more. The $35,000 is too low compared to the ‘fat cats’ as they call them. It is too low for poor people to live with. And if we look at the cost of living which is very high; food is very expensive, you have to pay water, light bills and you might have a grand [child] to help to send to school. So I feel they should do something better. I average that around $45,000 could work.’

20130624nandramNandram Mathura, rice farmer
`With the way things are going in this country I don’t believe anybody can survive on $35,000 per month. It is way too low especially for big families. Everything in the shops has increased and many times parents would have to go without basic food items just to make the money last to the next pay day. It is very hard on people so I think the government should definitely give them an increase.’

20130624satyaSatya Mohabir, US student
`Frankly, $35,000 can hardly accommodate anybody in terms of running a home. It would be nice if they can increase it to a substantial amount that people can survive on. If people earn more there would not be so many children on the streets begging. I think the government needs to drop the percentage of the income tax rates and PAYE so that the people can have more money in their pockets. If persons do not get remittances from relatives overseas they would have to go without basic items. So if we talk about development for the country we have to start with development of the people.’

20130624ragnauthRagnauth Bisnauth, unemployed
`I lost my leg a few years ago and I am unable to do too much work. I asked a lot of places for work but I am not getting through. I had no choice but to go out some days to beg for my living and I have to make much with the little money that I get. I don’t get any help from government or from family. I think that the $35,000 per month is good because it is better than nothing, especially for a small family. They have to make much with that and buy only what is necessary. Nevertheless if would be good if government can give them an increase so they can live a little more comfortable.’

20130624devika Devika, home attendant
`When people work for $35,000 per month and they have to pay electricity and other utility bills and you have to buy grocery then what would that leave you with? That money cannot work. People are just living from pay day to pay day. It is a real struggle, especially if no other person in the house has a job and there are children to send to school. It is only because people cannot do better that they have to take the jobs. That would send people to do wrong things to get money. And remember you have to pay passage to go to work. Then you cannot purchase less than $500 fish anymore, one chicken is $2,000 and every time you go to the shop the prices increase. And yet some people would still try to stretch their money and save out of that in case of emergency.’

20130624lochanLochan Mooklall, rice farmer
`That is definitely not enough, given the expense for items now especially in the supermarkets and stores. What do you think $35,000 could purchase in foodstuff alone, much-less if you have to buy clothing for the family? I think the government should do better than that. People have to pay bills and in the case of those who don’t have a house they have to pay rent. Then they have to pay transportation cost to get to work and school. I think the workers should get at least $50,000. They could try with that and they could plant a little garden at the side. They  would be able to manage their lives with that.’

20130624semonaSemona Ramsarran, shareholder at Phagoo’s General Store
`I think they should increase the wages a little more because after they cut the NIS and other charges it would leave them with less than the $35,000. When they work for so little money they won’t get to save any in case of an emergency. I think that with the prices for products going up at the shops and with the revenue going to the government through VAT, they (government) would be in a better position to pay the workers a decent wage. When you think about it, it is very difficult for persons to survive on that amount of money per month. How would they make out in case of sickness or other emergency? They would have to help from relatives but not everyone is lucky to get that.’

20130624barbaraBarbara Ramphal, seamstress
`I don’t think $35,000 can do anything for the workers because everything is so expensive. I buy a can of milk for $4,900 and that only lasts one week and I live alone. So you can imagine how the single mothers with children make out. I bought the milk, a can of Milo and two pints of kerosene every week for $10,000, so just calculate that. The government should at least give $45 to $50,000 per month. That amount can help but anything lower than that is not manageable. Persons can barely make it.’

20130624roopchand Roopchand, pandit
`That money is not enough because if you check it a man would eat three meals a day at roughly $700 per meal. It would work out to a lot per week. I think that the wage is too low and they should get more money. And if you notice now, with the rain and the dams getting bad workers [labourers] don’t want to go to work. Then I heard that light bills would go up too. I think the politicians should work together to do what is best for the country.’

20130624imran Imran Nizamudeen, goldsmith
`Well I feel that it is not right for the minimum wage to be so low because time is getting harder every day and I think they should get something more. The decision makers need to meet and review the situation that people are faced with. They should consider different factors regarding the expenses of the families and come up with a better wage. I think they can find the money somewhere, somehow. It cannot happen one time but it can happen gradually.’

Around the Web