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Home | June 2013 Please tell us what you think of this article. Tell a friend Print Friendly

Falklands : PUBLIC MEETING MONDAY, 27 MAY 2013
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 02.06.2013 (Article Archived on 30.06.2013)



A public meeting took place in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town hall on Monday, 27 May 2013 at 1700hrs. MLAs present were Edwards, Sawle, Cheek (Chair) Halford and Hansen.





PUBLIC MEETING MONDAY, 27 MAY 2013



 



A public meeting took place in the
Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town hall on Monday, 27 May 2013 at
1700hrs.  MLAs present were Edwards,
Sawle, Cheek (Chair) Halford and Hansen.



 



The meeting featured a
presentation on the Minimum wage by Jamie Fotheringham, who outlined the 17
parts of the Minimum Wage Bill that is due to be debated in the Assembly,
hopefully in August.



 



Mr Fotheringham explained that the
Minimum Wage Bill would implement proposals for workers in the Falkland Islands
to be guaranteed a minimum wage for their work.



 



Copies of the Explanitory
Memorandum and a public consultation questionnaire were available at the
meeting.  The Explanatory Memorandum is
intended to assist readers of the Bill by providing a detailed explanation of
the Bill’s provisions which include 34 clauses and 2 Schedules.



 



The memorandum formed part of a
package of draft legislation that also has a draft order and two sets of draft
regulations dealing with specific issues – copies of the drafts are also being
gazetted with the Bill.



 



The presentation briefly outlined
the 17 parts of the Bill which are as follows:



 



· Part 1
deals with the title of the proposed Ordinance (the Minimum Wage Ordinance) and
the procedure for bringing it into force.



 



· Part 2
defines a number of words and phrases used elsewhere in the Bill. Key terms
that are defined in Part 2 include: “worker”; “eligible work”; and “pay
reference period”.



 



· Part 3
deals with the entitlement of a worker to a minimum wage (and the obligation on
employers to make additional payments if the amounts that workers are treated
as having been paid are less than the minimum wage to which they are entitled).



 



· Part 4
deals with minimum wage rates and includes duties for the Governor to set
minimum wage rates for adults (those aged 18 or over) and young persons (those
aged 16 or 17) and for those rates to be kept under review.  He added that originally the Minimum Wage
Bill only dealt with adults over 18 years old.



 



· Part 5
deals with the calculation of the hours worked by a worker for the purposes of
the minimum wage. This would be dealt with in the draft Minimum Wage
(Calculation of Hours Worked) Regulations. 
Accommodation, benefits in kind and median wages went into the
calculation.  It was necessary to make
the wage above the poverty line.



 



· Part 6
deals with the calculation of the amount treated as having been paid to a
worker for the purposes of the minimum wage. This would be dealt with in the
draft Minimum Wage (Calculation of Amount Paid) Regulations.  Adults 18 and over should earn £5.05 per hour
and young people can expect £3.10 minimum wage. 
Provisions are made for food and accommodation provided by the
employer.  This is capped to just over
£100.00 per week.  Tips and gratuities
are excluded as well as advances are excluded from the calculation.  Special amenities like working time and a
half, etc. tools and uniforms are also not included.  The list of exclusions ends with any other
benefits in kind.



 



Mr Fotheringham also alluded to
the questionnaire which asks about benefits like travel to and from work to be
included and/or excluded in the minimum wage calculation.  Time spent on call is currently excluded and
would kick in when you are actually working.



 



 



· Part 7
deals with the obligation on employers to keep records for minimum wage
purposes and the rights of workers to access their records. If you are an
employer, it means you must pay your employee at least the minimum wage for the
day and records will help demonstrate this. 
Employees are entitled to ask for this information.  Employees can have reasonable access but the
privilege is not to be used for nuisance value.



 



· Part 8
deals with the right of workers not to suffer adverse consequences because of
their entitlement to a minimum wage or because of action they take to enforce
their rights.



 



Parts 9 to 17 were not covered in
the meeting but it is helpful to include them here:



 



· Part 9 deals
with procedures by which workers can enforce their rights in the Summary Court
– however, it is intended that court action should only be a last resort.



 



· Part 10
deals with the burden of proof in minimum wage cases.



 



· Part 11
deals with appeals from the Summary Court in minimum wage cases.



 



· Part 12
deals with restrictions on contracting out of the minimum wage legislation –
attempts to contract out would not be effective but it would be possible to
settle claims out of court if they arise.



 



· Part 13
deals with publicity for the minimum wage legislation, guidance for employers
and workers and the information to be given by employers to their workers.



 



· Part 14
deals with consequential amendments, including an amendment to the Employment
Protection Ordinance (Title 32.3) dealing with dismissals relating to the
minimum wage.



 



Other
consequential amendments could be made if necessary.



 



· Part 15
would allow for transitional provisions to be made.



 



· Part 16
makes it clear that the minimum wage legislation binds the Crown and would
apply



to
the Crown as an employer.



 



· Part 17
would repeal the Labour (Minimum Wage) Ordinance (Title 32.5), which dates from



1942.



 



Initially the consultation would
have been closed on 17 May but the period has been extended because of the
public meeting and the phone-in planned for Tuesday evening on FIRS.  Now the consultation ends on Wednesday, 29
May 2013.



 



The next step is to analyse the
findings and highlight issues that need to be addressed so any necessary policy
issues can be addressed and any re-drafting can be done.  There will be a period of three months from
the date the legislation comes into force for employers of comply with that
legislation.  This should give employers
time to ascertain whether or not they are in compliance.



 



FIG plans to issue two sets of
guidance.  One will be given to employers
and one will be aimed at employees.



 



Mr Fotheringham concluded his
presentation at this point and asked for questions.  Those questions and comments will be featured
in Tuesday’s issue.



 



The meeting featured a
presentation on the Minimum wage by Jamie Fotheringham, who outlined the 17
parts of the Minimum Wage Bill that is due to be debated in the Assembly,
hopefully in August.



 



After the presentation, members of
the public quizzed Mr Fotheringham about its content.



 



Marilyn Grimmer wanted further
explanation on how the £5.05 was arrived at.  
Mr Fotheringham said it was 60% of the median incomes.  The census data was looked at and
compiled.  The mid-way point was figured
out and 60% of the figure of £17,000.00 was used, being just above poverty
level and equates to £10,500.00 per annum.



 



Norman Clark had heard an
interview on the radio where the words “notional poverty line” were used and he
asked Mr Fotheringham to further explain this, saying the rest of the
calculations must be somewhat flawed.  Mr
Fotheringham explained that 60% of the median income is where the poverty line
lies, not only for the Falklands but for the rest of the world.  Mr Clark said that Lookout Lodge was used in
calculating the formula for social housing and this is not representative of
social housing in the Falkland Islands. 
Mr Fotheringham explained that the original proposal before he arrived
in the Falklands was linked to Lookout Lodge. 
When it was reviewed again, he realised that it wasn’t appropriate as
the rates could change, so that’s why the figure of 60% of median income was
derived.  It is a more stable basis on
which to make a comparison.  Lookout
Lodge rates, therefore, are no longer a part of calculating minimum wage.



 



Mr Clark wanted to know why FIC
(he meant FIG) stock used as a factor in calculating the social housing aspect
of minimum wage calculations.  Mr
Fotheringham said the reasoning was the same as well as making the calculation
complicated when multiple housing stocks are used to arrive at a figure.  It was important to have a more stable measure
to calculate where the policy of calculating the figure lies.  Mr Clark thought that disposable income after
housing costs were paid should be used in the calculation as it would be far
more accurate.  Mr Fotheringham said that
the policy unit is trying to ascertain what a living wage in the Falkland
Islands is.  At the moment data available
about how much people spend on housing has just come in.  Another calculation is what is the basic
standard of living in the Falkland Islands? 
This should be included in the legislation.



 



Norman Clark said he did a survey
four years ago after the general election looking at the cost of housing using
FIG rental fees, heating and the minimum amount of food required for survival on
a daily basis.  The calculation arrived
at was just over £14,000.00.  This is
without running a car, buying toiletries – purely to survive.  On Monday Mr Clark went to the Chandlary and
priced 21 items that he priced 4 years ago and there was an overall increase of
26%.  He went on to say that FIG rents
had gone up and this brings the calculation way over £5.05 per hour minimum
wage.  Mr Fotheringham said that price
increases were being replicated to some extent to update it from 4 years ago.  He also mentioned there were differentials
between private and FIG housing.



 



Norman Clark said that £5.05 per
hour was exactly the same as the UK minimum wage in 2005.  Mr Fotheringham was not aware of that.  Jan Cheek said that one of the things MLAs
were looking at is a regular review of the minimum wage.  MLAs just have £5.05 as a working figure
because there is more work to be done and the figure will be reviewed on a
regular basis.  Mr Clark pointed out that
the review would be done in a year’s time. 
Mr Fotheringham clarified that the review could happen at any given
point.  In a year a lot of work on the
calculation and other factors such as calculating a living wage in the
Falklands will be completed.



 



Ian Hansen felt it made sense to
have an annual review even though a more immediate option is always there.  Roger Spink and he were on a panel where this
point was made.  Perhaps a 6-monthly
review would be appropriate. 



 



Dick Sawle asked if this would
apply to civilian workers at MPA and Jamie Fotheringham said it would.  Derek Howatt asked if it was based on a 40
hour week and Mr Fotheringham confirmed this. 
The rate must be paid for every hour that is worked.  Phil Middleton wanted to know if it applies
to FIG employees and Mr Fotheringham confirmed it did.  Mr Middleton pointed out that current
employment law does not cover FIG employees. 
Jan Cheek said that the intention is that it would include and cover FIG
employees.



 



Ronnie Maclennan-Baird said that
there were two specific provisions. 
Clause 33 of the Bill and paragraph 1 of schedule 1 of the Bill
specifically says it applies to the Crown and specifically to the employees of
FIG.  Crown immunity had, in the early
2000s been repealed in the Employment Protection Ordinance.



 



Roger Spink said that the info
paper that was published in July 2012 seemed to indicate that only 12
individuals at Mount Pleasant would be affected by this but my research is very
different and there would be a considerable cost at Mount Pleasant.  Mr Spink wanted to know what steps were being
taken to work out what that effect would be to the increased costs for the
defence of the Islands.



 



Jan Cheek said that at the time it
was discussed that some of the contractors at MPA were already building in the
expectation of a minimum wage.  So they
may have been collecting the money without paying it out.  Roger Spink said he spoke with the Command
Secretary on the matter last Friday and he said no one had consulted him about
the current proposals.  He thought it
would be well worth talking to him.



 



Jan Cheek said it is possible the
message wasn’t passed on by his predecessor. 
Dick Sawle mentioned that Brigadier Aldridge sat in on the sessions
where this was discussed and he was well aware of the issue.  Roger Spink made the point about people at
MPA being better off on the minimum wage as MST and OAP would have to be paid
as well.



 



Ronnie Maclennan-Baird said a
locally recruited employee would not benefit from those exemptions – only those
recruited from outside the Islands.  Tax
would be miniscule but Roger Spink mentioned it wouldn’t be if a person were
working 60 hours a week.



 



Stella prindle-Middleton asked
about the process of review and increasing the minimum wage each year.  Jan Cheek said it wouldn’t necessarily be
confined to budget time.  It would be for
the policy department to decide this. 
Ronnie Maclennan-Baird said the legislation didn’t specify a time
table.  The process was on-going.  Mr Fotheringham said it made sense to keep it
under review by the Policy Unit.  Any
results would go to EXCO for a decision. 
The Governor’s input would be a formality after being approved by
EXCO.  After changes a 3-month waiting
period would allow employers to adjust their estimates.



 



Marilyn Grimmer wanted a fixed
time put on the review.  Jan Cheek said
it could be done at least annually.  Mrs
Grimmer want on to say the £5.05 figure was quite low.  Mr Fotheringham said it was a minimum wage
and near the poverty line.  Mrs Grimmer
feels it doesn’t give young people the incentive to try and save money and
there will be companies that will take it to the Minimum.  Dick Sawle agreed that there are people on a
low hourly rate who have no money.  £5.05
is a lot more money than some of these people earn.  Jan Cheek mentioned that we don’t have a
serious unemployment problem and employers will have to compete with offering
better wages for workers.  Keith Watson
wondered what the effect of people on the higher £5.05 would have on the median
line and Jamie Fotheringham said it hadn’t been calculated yet.  This could quickly move the median upwards.  A quick adjustment may be needed.  Mr Fotheringham said it was proposed that an
adjustment would be made 12 months after the wage is in force.



 



The question of being able to pay
OAP was raised and the threshold was £180.00 a week or £9,000.00 a year so
£5.05 would put minimum wage earners above that.  Roger Edwards said that as part of the budget
process the weekly wage is looked at. 
Currently FIG are not paying OAP for lower paid wage earners.  Jamie Fotheringham said there was currently
no provision to deal with that but will keep this as part of the consultation
process.



 



 



Question
from Derek Howatt



 



At a public
meeting some months ago on the subject of this old chestnut someone mentioned
it would be helpful to know how much the current state of the MPA Road costs
the economy.  Nobody disagreed and it was
suggested the PAC could be tasked to find this out but at the meeting on 18
March 2013 MLAs said it would not be appropriate as the PAC can only look back
and not forward.  



 



Can MLAs please
explain why undertaking an exercise of looking at costs that have been incurred
is not regarded as looking back?



 



How do MLAs come
to the view that FIG cannot afford to blacktop the MPA Road when the costs to
the economy of not doing it have not been quantified?



 



What was the
estimated cost of the investment in blacktopping the MPA Road when the project
was last submitted to Executive Council for inclusion in the Capital Programme
but rejected as unaffordable?



 



What benefits to
the economy were identified in the cost-benefit analysis in that submission?



 



Response
provided by Director Public Works



 



The estimated cost to surface the MPA road, when this was considered in
April 2012 was £34,112,000 which was based on an estimated cost of £701,900 per
kilometre.



 



The project cost is very directly affected by the price of bitumen,
which rose very sharply during the period when the project was being reviewed
and costed - with the price of bitumen increasing from £750 to £1,280 per tonne
over that period. This made a cost difference of just over £94,000 per
kilometre – this price change adding £4.5 million pounds to the overall cost of
the project. The general trend since April last year has been upwards although
remaining variable.



 



The projected Capital cost per year, per Kilometre, based on the above
costs and an assumed life of 20 years was £35,000



 



The additional annual recurrent cost for the higher level of salting
needed if the road were to be surfaced was £21,660



 



The projected overall direct additional capital cost per year to FIG of
surfacing compared with not surfacing based on a 30 year usable life was
£493,000.



 



Although the project was costed on the basis of progressive surfacing
over a 14 year period, it would have been necessary to commit the full cost of
the project which would have either required significant transfer into the
equalisation fund, or impacted on the recurrent budget to offset the additional
capital expenditure.



 



Cost benefit analysis within the paper related to capital and operating
costs to FIG and in relation to broader economics these obviously link to level
of nature of usage of the road, but also to the length of the road relevant to
the rest of the network.



 



The MPA road represents only 6 percent of the road network and much of
the heavier traffic on the MPA road itself relates to the shipment of cargo
into Mare Harbour which is then road hauled into Stanley.



 



At the time the paper was considered the capital equalisation fund was
already fully committed in meeting the projected programme and it was clear
that the new deep water port was going to be constructed in the Stanley area,
which would potentially change the traffic pattern significantly and it
therefore appeared prudent not to commit to a project of this magnitude at that
stage, particularly when the benefit of doing so was going to reduce when the
port was built.



 



Gerald Cheek asked when the Wave
Swell measuring buoy installed in Port William, what was its installation date
and how many days since its installation did it remain operational?



 



The Director of Central Services
said the Swell measuring buoy was deployed in Port William in early December
2012. When retrieved in early February 2013 it was found it was damaged and
unfortunately no discernible data was able to be recovered.  The electronic element was sent back to the
UK for a replacement under warranty.  We
expect to receive it back in the Islands and for it to be operational in
July.  The total cost to date is
£34,294.00 and additional operational costs once re-deployed will be roughly
£10,000.00.  Dick Sawle acknowledged it
only worked for a few days.  He asked
about the data following the easterly gales just after Christmas.  There was an unsuccessful attempt to get the
data off the Buoy as the information would be useful.  The Buoy was damaged when water got into the
battery pack located in a cone-like structure at the bottom and Mr Sawle feels
it was a design fault from the start.



 



Carl Evans asked about a recent
vehicle purchased for patient transport now not being fit for purpose.  He asked how this came about.  He also mentioned that the existing
ambulances were constantly breaking down and recently haven’t worked when asked
to respond to 999 calls, possibly risking lives in the process.



 



The response was that the small
fleet of vehicles at the KEMH have broken down for a number of different
reasons and this is constantly under review. 
There have been issues with some vehicles used for transporting patients
and changes have been made to these arrangements to ensure that the most
appropriate vehicle would be used.  All
vehicles are regularly maintained.  As
with any piece of equipment, vehicle break-downs do occur.  Although it gets little use, the second
ambulance is available as a back-up.



 



Mr Evans also wanted to know why
the KEMH switchboard is not manned during lunchtime.  This is unacceptable and a constant engaged
tone usually is heard and there isn’t even an answer machine message
deployed.  For clinical safety and image
aspects both locally and internationally some resolve is needed for this basic
and fundamental issue.



 



Arrangements for KEMH Lunchtime
cover are being reviewed by the interim Director of Health and Social Services
with a view to a more appropriate arrangement being instituted and this should
come into place shortly.



The Director of health and Social
Services provided the answers to Mr Evans’ questions.



 



The next written question was from
Catherine Catton regarding tsunami warnings. 
As she was not present, Mrs Cheek said she would forward an answer to
her and refer her to other questions asked by another member of the public.



 

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