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Sectoral Debate: Spencer warns gov't against providing work permits to unskilled workers

Published:Wednesday | April 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM

THE OPPOSITION Jamaica Labour Party is warning the Government not to provide work permits to large numbers of untrained overseas workers when there are thousands of unskilled unemployed Jamaicans seeking jobs locally.

Rudyard Spencer, the opposition spokesman on labour, has highlighted what he said was widespread concern about the employment of foreigners in Jamaica by overseas companies operating locally.

He raised concern about the employment of foreigners in the service industry, particularly in unskilled jobs where large numbers of Jamaicans could receive employment. "Jamaica has a labour force of 1.3 million workers between the ages of 14 and 65, about 175,000 of which are unemployed. Jamaica cannot afford any neglect of its neediest workers at this time, particularly as demonstrated by the practice of the Ministry of Labour," Spencer said.

The opposition spokesman urged the labour ministry not to turn a blind eye to the country's labour laws and regulations, adding that there are specific circumstances which govern the employment of foreign workers in Jamaica.

He said persons from abroad who desire to work in Jamaica should apply for a work permit, with the exceptions being someone travelling to Jamaica with his/her spouse; a journalist, a director, inspector or auditor of a Jamaica-based branch of a company.


Give J'cans first consideration


According to Spencer, foreigners employed in Jamaica are subject to two pieces of legislation - The Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens Employment Act and the Caribbean Community Free Movement of Skilled Persons Act.

He said these pieces of legislation seek to ensure that qualified Jamaicans are given first consideration in employment opportunities.

"They (the laws) do not provide for the employment of Mexican or Chinese workers to meet deadlines ...," Spencer charged.