War of the wage - Metro US

War of the wage

Hikes in the minimum wage are going to mean across-the-board price increases, hurting the people they’re supposed to help, says convenience store owner Mike Hammoud.

“Everyone’s fooling themselves if they think they’re going to be better off. Don’t kid yourself, the cost of living is going up,” the owner of four Newsbreak stores said yesterday.
“I think everyone is going to be forced to increase prices.”

The Nova Scotia minimum wage went up yesterday to $8.10 an hour, the first of four annual increases. By March 2011, it will be $9.56 an hour.

Hammoud said he was already looking at raising his prices because of climbing oil prices, the cost of hiding cigarette displays, and the loss of tobacco display revenue. It’s getting harder for convenience stores to compete, he said.

“The future is a little scary.”

Canadian Federation of Independent Business vice-president Leanne Hachey said the move creates upward pressure on all employers, because minimum wage is a benchmark. When it goes up, everyone wants to make more.

“It will have an impact across the board on all businesses in Nova Scotia,” Hachey said. She added with the current labour shortage, businesses have to pay a fair wage anyway.

Labour and Workforce Development Minister Mark Parent said a committee of businesses and employees made recommendations on what the minimum wage should be. It shouldn’t be a hardship for businesses, he said, since the labour shortage will force wages up anyway.

By 2011, Parent said the minimum wage will reach Statistics Canada’s low-income cutoff.
“We feel in government that this is a fair minimum wage.”

With files from Robyn Young

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