Fifty farm workers are to leave the island Tuesday (May 4) for Washington D.C., having received a charge from the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles, that they pave the way for more Jamaicans to begin going to that city for work.
The 50 men are part of a group of 300 that will be dispatched to Gebbers Farm in Washington D.C. during May. This is the first time that the farm is taking part in Jamaica’s Overseas Agricultural Programme.
Mr. Charles told the workers that the farm currently employs 900 Mexicans, and that he was hoping that, through their hard work and discipline, Jamaicans will become the employees of choice on that farm. He also noted that it was their conduct and performance which would determine whether their contracts are renewed at the end of the six-month period.
“So anybody who is in this room, going on this trip, who cannot honour that commitment of discipline and hard work, don’t go,” he warned.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon Pearnel Charles (left), gives a pep talk to a group of 50 farm workers who depart for Washington D.C, USA today (May 4), during a sending off ceremony at the Ministry’s Overseas Employment Centre, East Street, Kingston, Monday (May 3).
Mr. Charles explained to them that it was the discipline of one farm worker, Mr. Lester Cohen, which encouraged the owners of Gebbers Farm to seek out Jamaican workers. He said, based on the reports of Mr. Cohen’s work ethic, he would be requesting that the Government honour him with an award.
“If one man, through hard work and discipline and good home training, can let 300 (Jamaican) men get jobs abroad, we need to honour him,” he reasoned.
The Labour and Social Security Minister also encouraged the men to ensure that their families are taken care of while they are gone, and informed that a team of social workers from his Ministry would make routine checks on their families to ensure their well-being, while the men are away.
The Government’s Overseas Representative from Florida East Coast Travel Service, Mr. Robert Morrison, encouraged the men to look at ways in which they could improve their families and communities, when they return at the end of the six months.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon Pearnel Charles (left) speaking with the Ministry’s overseas representative from the Florida East Coast Travel Service, Robert Morrison, during a sending off ceremony for 50 farm workers who depart to work in Washington D.C. in the United States on Tuesday (May 4), at the Ministry’s Overseas Employment Centre, East Street, Kingston, on Monday (May 3).
He noted that it was important that the workers think of ways to maximise their earnings through investments, so as to ensure they can have a stable future even when their days of working overseas come to an end.
Gebbers Farm is one of the largest holdings in the United States, with over 5,000 acres of apples and more than 2,000 acres of cherry.