HC Deb 21 October 1942 vol 383 cc1953-4
26. Mr. David Adams

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, as certain adult workers in the sugar factories in Jamaica are in receipt of wages of 10s. 6d. per week, the general wage being 15s. to 18s. per week for a 12-hour day, all of which wages are too low for reasonable maintenance, he will recommend the adoption forthwith of a minimum wage ordinance for this industry?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

Wages of sugar workers in Jamaica are paid in accordance with an agreement concluded between the Bustamante Industrial Union and the Jamaica Sugar Manufacturers Association on 19th March, 1941, whereby wages are linked to the cost-of-living index.

Mr. Adams

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that complaints are made very generally in the island that these wages are too low to afford reasonable subsistence?

Mr. Macmillan

As I said in my answer, I prefer to leave these matters of wages to be settled by negotiation between the trade unions and employers' associations.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Are these low wages paid by British firms operating in the island?

Mr. Macmillan

They are settled either by British firms or between the workers' unions and the employers' unions.

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