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McNeill: More equity for local workers in tourism sector

Published:Wednesday | July 11, 2018 | 12:14 AMBrian Walker/Gleaner Writer
Dr Wykeham McNeill

Dr Wykeham McNeill, opposition spokesman on tourism, has argued that there needs to be more equity for local workers at all levels of the sector.

McNeill pointed during his Sectoral Debate presentation in parliament yesterdayout that local and foreign workers performing the same roles were not paid equally and implored the Government to examine the issue.

The opposition spokesman on tourism explained, "Many of our Caribbean colleagues have already taken steps to ensure equity in their industries, and so we, too, must ensure that we put policy in place to protect our workers and to ensure that the employment benefits of tourism reach the people of Jamaica."

The rise in contract labour was another troubling issue for McNeill, a former tourism minister. He reasoned that some employment required the contract system, but said it should not be deployed as a tool to deprive workers of the benefits that they would derive from permanent employment.

McNeill noted, "There must be a review at the level of the Ministry of Labour of the weaknesses in the system that allow rank-and-file foreign entertainers to populate the industry to the detriment of Jamaican talent. We must find a way to ensure that Jamaican entertainers like the Miko Blancos of today, take their rightful place in an industry that they played a crucial role in building."

The shadow tourism minister also urged Edmund Bartlett, minister of tourism, to expedite the implementation of the Tourism Workers' Pension Scheme.

"The scheme was scheduled to be implemented in January 2017 and has languished till now. The minister has given two missed deadlines already, and this is unacceptable and shows a wanton disregard for our workers and lack of commitment to this programme," said McNeill.