Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Chinese workers cheaper than Jamaicans – contractor

Published:Wednesday | March 16, 2016 | 3:00 AMAdrian Frater

Western Bureau:

In reacting to claims that Chinese workers, who were brought into the island, were doing simple tasks on a multimillion-dollar hotel project in Negril, which Jamaican workers could easily handle, a Montego Bay-based contractor says that he is not surprised.

According to the contractor, who asked not to be identified, based on his understanding of the happenings in the local construction industry, the services of a Chinese worker come much cheaper than those of a Jamaican.

"A Chinese worker probably costs no more than US$1 and a bowl of rice per day, which is much cheaper than a Jamaican worker, who, with the various built-in-costs, is about US$4 a day," said the contractor. "It is not something I condone, but it is the reality on the ground."

WORK PERMITS

In a story published in The Gleaner on Tuesday under the caption 'More Concerns at Negril Hotel Project', a contractor on the project, which is an initiative of Mexican investors, told The Gleaner that he was not pleased that Chinese workers were being brought in to do menial tasks, which Jamaicans could handle.

"I would hate to believe that our Government is giving the Chinese work permits to come here to lay building blocks. That is something that our Jamaican workers can do and should be doing," the contractor said, while noting that the project was being undertaken by the Chinese firm COMPLANT.

The Montego Bay-based contractor said that many local contractors were so anxious to make a killing from their projects that they had no qualms about bypassing Jamaican workers for cheap labour.

"I really can't say how they (the contractors) are doing it, but the Chinese are not the only cheap labour they are bringing in. They are bringing in Mexicans and Hondurans as well," the contractor said. "The Government really needs to do something about it because the practice is hurting Jamaican workers."

In 2014, Rudyard Spencer, who was opposition spokesman on labour at the time, told members of Parliament examining the Estimates of Expenditure during a meeting of the Standing Finance Committee that there were persons on work sites locally doing jobs that Jamaicans could be hired to carry out. However, he did not provide details, citing "diplomatic sensitivity".