Andrea Downer, Gleaner Writer
A LARGE NUMBER of Jamaican women are seeking to land jobs overseas as the harsh unemployment realities here hit home.
Although no official study was available to determine the number of persons who have been affected, women interviewed by The Sunday Gleaner claim that as many as 17 Jamaicans looking for work arrive in islands such as The Bahamas almost on a daily basis.
The women are sometimes fleeced of thousands of dollars and promised high-paying jobs in the islands by some unscrupulous recruiters, and in many instances, jobs are never provided.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Alvin McIntosh, told The Sunday Gleaner on Friday evening that while his ministry has granted many companies and organisations permits to recruit Jamaicans for jobs overseas, he was unable to give specific details.
"I am unable to say at this time, how many companies or bodies my ministry has registered, but if you call my office on Monday, I will be able to give you the details."
Mr. McIntosh was also unable to say if his office had received any complaints from Jamaicans who have been tricked by the job recruiters.
Anthony Russell, manager of E-Jam, a recruitment agency, which he said is registered by the Ministry of Labour, explained that the illegitimate job recruiters have left a legacy that makes his job of recruiting Jamaicans very challenging.
"People are cautious because of past bad experiences they might have had, and they will come in to us and say, 'Are you another one of those people who promise people jobs and only take their money?' We face that every day, so although we are a new company, we have a long way to go to prove that we are authentic," Mr. Russell stated.
He says his company is currently recruiting Jamaicans to work in the United States and the United Arab Emirates, in the Middle East. He told The Sunday Gleaner that his company, in collaboration with international recruitment agencies, had placed 80 people in jobs in a major hotel chain in the United States. He says 80 more are scheduled to leave at the end of September to take up jobs in hotels in parts of the United States.
Mr. Russell said he has never visited Dubai to verify that the jobs promised, along with terms of contracts, are delivered. However, he says he plans to visit Dubai in February. But if all goes as planned, E-Jam should be sending about 30 Jamaicans to the Middle Eastern country long before then.
"We are now processing people to take up jobs in Dubai, and by Wednesday (this week) we should be submitting their résumés to employers in Dubai. Within 10 days we should know if they are placed (and) within six weeks, people should be leaving." he explained.
He said about 30 persons have been registered for placement in Dubai so far.
Mr. Russell said he has no knowledge of a Jamaican Embassy in Dubai, which would assist Jamaicans who might experience difficulty when they get there. He was also unable to say where the closest Jamaican Embassy was located. Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Delano Franklyn, confirmed that there was no Jamaican Embassy or honorary consul for Jamaica in that country at present.
Mr. Russell told The Sunday Gleaner that E-Jam is registered as a company to recruit Jamaicans for placement in jobs and there were no geographic parameters stipulated in the terms and conditions of the licence issued by the Ministry of Labour. This means that E-Jam's recruitment licence allows his company to recruit Jamaicans for jobs located anywhere in the world. "The parameters of the licence are mainly procedural, not geographic," he stated. He admitted that he was not familiar with labour laws in Dubai or if such laws even existed.
GOVERNED BY CONTRACTS
He said the Jamaican workers would be regulated by contracts, which they would sign and such contracts were governed by international law. However, he was unable to allow The Sunday Gleaner to view a sample of the contracts.
Senator Franklyn said a job agency that is licensed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security must be recognised and its activities closely monitored by the ministry.
"However, while the parameters of the licence are procedural and do not speak to geographic jurisdiction, it is the responsibility of the Labour Ministry to ask pertinent questions if the ministry is aware that the job agency plans to recruit Jamaicans to work in places that are unsettled, such as Iraq," Senator Franklyn stated. "However, to the best of my knowledge, Dubai is relatively settled," he concluded.
Mr. Russell says Yvonne Russell, who owns E-Jam, and is involved in its daily operations, previously operated an employment agency in Florida, as well as a secretarial service in New York for several years.
This extensive experience and the motivation to provide jobs for Jamaicans whom they feel lack opportunities, is what Mr. Russell says motivated him and his partners to open the company. The company's website lists a branch of the agency which is located in Florida, but Mr. Russell told The Sunday Gleaner that the Florida office is an associate branch, and the company's head office is based in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
Mr. Russell said he has never
visited Dubai to verify that the
jobs promised, along with terms
of contracts, are delivered.