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Minister of Labour and Social Security, Pearnel Charles, has put forward a proposal to the regional Labour Board, that a special day be designated in the region, in recognition of the overseas employment programme.
He added that on this day, the benefits derived from the programme by the many Caribbean families would be highlighted, and appreciation shown to the employers within the programme.
Giving the main address at the opening of a Joint Meeting of the Regional Labour Board and United States Employers, held at the Rose Hall Resort and Country Club, in Montego Bay on February 12, Mr. Charles heaped praise on the employers in the programme, while outlining to them the extent of the benefits accrued within the region.
“This programme is going to be 65 years old this year. You have contributed to the development of people in this country, you have sent so many children to school, you have allowed Jamaicans to build so many homes, you have helped us to establish so many stable families, the best thing you can do for us is to do some more,” he said.
“Next year we want to celebrate the years of friendship, co-operation and togetherness. We want to have a fun day with the Jamaican families that you have helped. We want you to come to Jamaica and see some of those farm workers and their families, and we want you to bring some of your families and let’s have a good time. We can call it the ‘Farmers and Workers Day’,” the Minister added.
Mr. Charles pointed out that the proposal has already been forwarded to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry. He noted that over the last eight years approximately 150,000 Jamaicans have enjoyed the privilege of working in the USA under the programme, earning for themselves approximately $10 billion per annum.
The Minister argued that a lot of the Jamaican professionals who are now serving in the USA can be viewed as a direct result of the American investment in the programme, as they are children of parents who benefited from the programme.
He said that it was the plan of the ministry to upgrade the skills of the Jamaican worker, who would be sent on the programme in the future, as its focus would now be on building human resource.
Approximately 70 persons, inclusive of employers, Regional Labour Board members and other local and regional stakeholders of the US Hotel and Farm Work programme are participating in the three-day meeting, which ends today.