JAMAICA | Opposition Senator wants a review of how work permits are awarded
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica, June 25, 2021 - Opposition spokesperson on tourism, Senator Janice Allen wants the government to review the method of awarding work permits, particularly in the tourism sector where there has been an influx of foreign workers doing jobs which can be done by Jamaicans.
Opening today’s State of the National debate in the Senate on behalf of the Opposition, Senator Allen said “the method of awarding Work Permits was always a vexed one. That methodology has to be thrown out and replaced with a bold policy of affirmative action that promotes the utilization of Jamaican workers first, second and third before work permits are issued for a skill area.”
Senator Allen said “too many Jamaicans have been elbowed out of top-level jobs because of the current approach of granting work permits.”
The Opposition Senator pointed out that “a fair and balanced government, as I said before, looks out for and ensures that workers are protected, and that Jamaican workers must get a fair chance at opportunities for growth and to improve their lives.”
Only recently the president of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians and Affiliated Unions (JFMAU), Karen Smith, has questioned whether foreigners will be given work permits to provide entertainment when the tourism sector reopens.
Smith said Foreign workers from countries like Cuba and the Dominican Republic are often issued permits to work in entertainment for the tourism sector while qualified Jamaican are deprived of these jobs.
With COVID-19 causing major economic fallout across the world, Smith said that Jamaicans should be given preference for entertainment jobs in the tourism sector, which is being readied for reopening.
In a recent interview with the Gleaner, Smith, one of Jamaica’s leading cabaret singers, said “For nearly 10 years, local dance groups, variety acts, singers, and bands have been shut out of employment, replaced by foreigners with work permits for large entertainment companies and Spanish hotels. Jamaican entertainers have been underemployed within the sector for far too long, making them even more vulnerable during this time of crisis,” Smith said.
She pointed out that musicians, dancers, and other creatives who work on cruise ships are now out of work, competing for the already diminished jobs available within the tourism sector in Jamaica. “How will our vulnerable entertainment sector be treated to ensure maximised productivity for Jamaican workers?” Smith asked.
“Jamaica’s entertainment product has never been at full capacity and is even more vulnerable now post-COVID-19. We want to see our local performers on all our stages when the hotel sector reopens. Many entertainers within our community were struggling to survive before the pandemic, which made it even harder with hotel closures. These Jamaicans should have some comfort and confidence in the Government to know they will be first in line,” she told The Gleaner.