Providing Employment for Jamaicans Topped Agenda of Labour Ministry

The new Government jumped into action immediately after taking office providing employment opportunities for at least 25 Jamaicans, who have been recruited to work at the Kiawah Island Resort in the United States.

They joined over 130 Jamaicans already employed at the resort in Charleston, South Carolina.

Speaking in an interview with JIS News, Minister of Labour and Social Security Hon. Derrick Kellier, said the initiative is in keeping with the Government’s thrust to tackle unemployment and develop training opportunities for Jamaicans at home and abroad.

“We have a lot of trained people here, some who have been certified by Heart Trust and other institutions and we want to create opportunities for them overseas, so that they can earn some foreign exchange, (and)  they’ll be able to take care of their families and so forth,” Mr. Kellier said.

Human Resource Manager at the Kiawah Island Resort, Margaret Harris, was in the island in January, recruiting trained hospitality workers for the resort.

“Jamaican workers are of a very high quality and high levels of productivity and, as such, the employers from the United States and Canada are always anxious to get a whole lot of our workers and this exercise is just another in that vein,”  the Labour Minister said.

The following month, the new wage agreement for workers within the sugar industry was signed between the Sugar Producers’ Federation and trade union groups representing employees.

The agreement will see the workers benefiting from a nine-point claim, which will also cover improved working conditions. It was signed after months of negotiations and intervention by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

Minister Kellier, in his remarks at the signing ceremony held at the Ministry’s Heroes Circle offices in Kingston on February 23, said the agreement represents the power of negotiation and peaceful resolution to conflict, and signifies a certain level of cooperation, which should be the approach going forward in all negotiations.

The two-year agreement provides for a wage increase of 10.37 per cent on all daily and task rates in the first year, and six per cent in the second year.

Workers will also receive a four per cent bonus on gross crop earnings in year one and two per cent in year two, as per the agreement.  The new rates will be applied no later than March 31, 2012 and retroactive payments made no later than April 2012.

Other areas of settlement include allowances (clothing, meal, and overtime), group life and personal accident insurance.

Another noteworthy event which took place shortly after the new administration took office, was the 10th anniversary of the Programme of  Advancement through Health and Education (PATH).

 As part of celebration activities, students from Corporate Area schools, who are beneficiaries under the programme benefitted from an interactive session held at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre on March 8.

The event was aimed at educating students about the importance of complying with the requirements under the programme, including attending school regularly.

It also sought to address some of the stigma associated with the programme through live entertainment, panel discussion, and a question and answer session.

Acting Director for Social Security in the Ministry, Denzil Thorpe, told JIS News that a key objective was to make the students feel proud to be part of such a programme, which has touched the lives of so many Jamaicans island-wide, while highlighting the achievements over the years.

“Ten years is an important milestone in any programme and considering the fact that it covers 400,000 persons, shows the important role it plays in society,” he stated.

PATH is a conditional cash transfer programme, which has been providing assistance to the most vulnerable in society, since its inception in 2002.


By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter

JIS Social