Give Barbadians first choice when jobs become available in the labour market.
This call came from trade unionist Senator Toni Moore as part of her contribution to the Caribbean Community (Movement of Skilled Nationals) (Amendment) Bill, 2020, in the Senate today.
The leader of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) said that while she was aware that her view might be met with opposition, it was significant that the labour market established standards that would allow Barbadians the right of first refusal when employment opportunities arise.
“And I say this very conscious that this can evolve into a debate on whether or not the statement is a xenophobic statement or not. And, without fear of that, because I recognise exactly where it is going if you have a community that just opens up its borders and allows people to be in and out without giving consideration to the realities that confront us, if we take Barbados today.
“Barbados today is one in which the economy is challenged, in which there is a higher rate of unemployment that shouldn’t make any of us comfortable. If we don’t understand that we must create an environment that provides for our citizens, the average man and woman in the street, an opportunity to know that where opportunities present themselves, they have a right to first refusal, we may find that all of the debates we have heard earlier about being xenophobic and so on may become more apparent than they should be,” Moore said.
The trade unionist said she was concerned about businesses advertising for work permits to allow non-nationals to come into the island to do jobs that can be done by Barbadians. She sounded the reminder that businesses should advertise jobs internally first to give existing qualified employees the opportunity to apply for the positions.
“There are skills that reside locally. There are employers that for one reason or another, would prefer to move not only outside of the company, but also even outside of Barbados, to hire some of the most basic skills. And one has to raise in his or her mind, the question why.
“Why would you need to go outside of Barbados for a cook when our BCC [Barbados Community College] is turning out so many suitable people? Why would you have to go outside for a general worker? Why would you have to go outside for a housekeeper…for a professional tree climber?” she asked.
Senator Moore said there was a need for policymakers to pay attention to ensuring that citizens were trained and protected by legislation to have the right of first refusal.
She also noted that unless Barbados introduced systems to recognise regional employment standards, there would continue to be a kind of ambivalence at official levels, and negative attitudes towards a single market and economy.
“Systems must be put in place to ensure that our people are equipped and could compete as we seek to speak about giving full effect to a CSME (Caribbean Single Market and Economy],” she said. [email protected]