- Minister Samuda further noted that the project, through the Ministry’s Social Intervention Project (SIP) will also provide 50 female household workers with financial and non-financial support for entrepreneurial activities for improved security as incentives towards formalisation.
- Director, ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, Dennis Zulu; President, JEF, David Wan; President, Jamaica Household Workers Union, Shelly Pryce; Chairperson, Jamaica Fishermen Co-Op Union Ltd, Shawn Taylor; and President, Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, Helene Davis Whyte, also brought greetings during the launch.
The Full Story
For the first time, Jamaica’s household helpers and fisherfolk will be able to secure pension benefits under the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) as the Government moves to formalise these sectors.
This will be facilitated under the Transition to Formality Action Plan, which will see this segment of workers being able to access health and life insurance, pension and other facilities to provide them with security and protection in their work environment.
The Action Plan, which was officially launched by Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Karl Samuda, during a virtual ceremony on Tuesday (November 30), is in keeping with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) recommendation to Member States to standardise informal sectors.
This follows the growing trend in many developing countries where workers are employed in industries that are unregistered or do not comply with the minimum standards of labour legislation or in some cases Decent Work. The ILO defines Decent Work as productive work for women and men in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.
Jamaica’s national action plan, which is a tripartite collaboration among the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) and the Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF), seeks to encourage micro, small and medium-sized, as well as large entities to embrace systems that make the process of transitioning to formality seamless.
The project’s development goals are to reduce the informality in work and workers engaged in the domestic, agricultural and fishing industries in the first instance. It also seeks to increase the formalisation of agricultural and fishing business units and increase the institutional capacity of employers and organisations representing these industries.
In his remarks Mr. Samuda said the launch, which marked a very important time in the history of Jamaica is “significant, impactful and timely” as the Government works to improve the welfare of workers in informal sectors.
“Domestic helpers are integral to the households in which they are employed, yet their work is often undervalued, poorly regulated and not protected. Similarly, our fisherfolk have been challenged, and it’s compounded by high levels of informal employment,” he said.
The Minister said he was particularly heartened that formalisation of operators in Jamaica’s fisheries sector, which involves “long hours and strenuous activity in extremely challenging marine environments”, will provide approximately 100 farmers and fisherfolk with capacity training support to facilitate the transition from micro to small and medium-sized enterprises.
Minister Samuda stressed that the Government recognises that access to health and life insurance and other facilities to ensure personal protection is limited in these sectors “and we must act now to protect them from suffering the indignity of servitude”.
“We take the Decent Work agenda very seriously and are committed to doing whatever is necessary to bring dignity to the world of the informal sector, as we make every effort to get them into the formal sector to reap the benefits of their labour,” he said.
Minister Samuda further noted that the project, through the Ministry’s Social Intervention Project (SIP) will also provide 50 female household workers with financial and non-financial support for entrepreneurial activities for improved security as incentives towards formalisation.
“Basic training will accompany the provision of the grant. This underlines the importance of training to achieving success,” he said.
He also thanked the ILO for its contribution of US$500,000, which he noted has greatly assisted the Ministry to acquire the equipment necessary to achieve some of its objectives.
“We have received, so far, 10 tablet computer to enhance the capacity and capability of the labour inspectorate as we increase and improve our service standards. We will now be able to collect and analyse data in a safe and productive manner in real time from the field. Additionally, we will be able to make prompt responses to stakeholders irrespective of their location, thereby resolving issues at a faster rate,” he said.
He further informed that the ILO and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) have begun a project to study the unemployment insurance feasibility in Jamaica.
Divisional Director Industrial Relations and Allied Services in the Labour Ministry, Gillian Corrodus, informed that through the project, the Government hopes to achieve increased institutional capacity of worker organisations and increased capacity of Jamaica to develop policies, legislation and other measures to facilitate the transition of enterprise to formality.
“We hope to achieve increased capacity of constituents to provide adequate labour protection to workers in diverse forms of work arrangements, including on digital labour platforms,” she said.
Ms. Corrodus further noted that the project, which was initially scheduled to end in October 2021, has been extended due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The ILO has been very generous in extending the timeline for implementation. So, therefore, this project will end in April 2022,” she said.
Director, ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, Dennis Zulu; President, JEF, David Wan; President, Jamaica Household Workers Union, Shelly Pryce; Chairperson, Jamaica Fishermen Co-Op Union Ltd, Shawn Taylor; and President, Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, Helene Davis Whyte, also brought greetings during the launch.