St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Should the government have a responsibility to the working-class to ensure their sustenance and maintain a satisfactory standard of living?
This topic was discussed by several callers to WINN FM’s Voices Programme on Monday (March 3) which spotlighted the issues of the working-class in the current St. Kitts and Nevis economy.
Views expressed by callers ranged from blaming the government for the gap between rich and poor to arguing that the poor will always be disadvantaged under capitalism unless they accept responsibility to remove themselves from poverty.
There was also concern about the working-class in the private sector who do not have the benefit of government-issued post-retirement plans, and because of this, may have to continue working beyond the traditional age of retirement.
“There is a conspiracy to keep financially poor people in poverty. Poor people, financially poor people have to come begging them [the politicians] so when election time comes they buy people, they give people a little fifty dollars here, a little two hundred dollars there, or a thousand dollars, and then say vote for me. You see this kind of threat that these pseudo businessmen and businesswomen hang over the government and poor people, ‘If you increase the minimum wage, we have ten people in our particular company we will cut down size because we can’t afford it.’ What do you mean by can’t afford when you are making millions and millions of dollars in a year’s time and don’t even have, as you said, a pension plan? Someone works for thirty, twenty-five years, sometimes up to forty years and at the end of the day, when they make sixty-two they still have to go out and get a job on the side like security or some other type of job. Brother, that is not right!” one caller lamented.
“The first thing has to do with the economic system that we have which is capitalism. Under capitalism, what you describe will always occur because the profit and the surplus go to those who own the means of production. There are ways and means for poor people to pool their resources to become the means of production.”
“The government has to make the climate conducive for these companies to be able to offer their employees, a pension plan” said another caller.
“The Caribbean is a group of small islands; don’t you think it is time now that the government make these companies, especially these huge companies’ make it mandatory to have some kind of retirement package for the workers? Because you cannot sit back and wait for the little amount of social security. These companies, they have packages, and would offer the workers but the workers wouldn’t take advantage of it. The problem is that sometimes is that they don’t explain [the packages] to the employees. The employers need to take the time out and break it down for people so they can understand.”