Jamaica Contractor General to review awards of contracts to overseas workers

(Jamaica Observer) CONTRACTOR General Dirk Harrison says that his office will review the awarding of contracts and work permits to overseas contractors to ensure the rights of Jamaican workers are not trampled upon.

Dirk Harrison
Dirk Harrison

Harrison made the statement at the Incorporated Master Builders Association of Jamaica annual banquet last weekend in Kingston.

His statement came on the heels of industrial action taken last week by construction workers at the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande hotel worksite in St Ann, and allegations of special treatment to foreign contractors and non-payment of salaries to the Jamaican workers by the subcontractors. In the meantime, the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) have questioned the right of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to consider awarding as many as 410 work permits to Mexican “finishers” to complete the construction of the hotel by April.

In a statement Tuesday, former Labour Minister Pearnel Charles said that he understood that approval had been given for 300 more work permits for Mexican workers to be employed, in addition to 110 Mexicans already on the site.

Opposition spokesman on labour, Rudyard Spencer, said in a release that the work permits were reportedly being granted for skills already available in Jamaica.

In a statement on the issue, Minister of Labour and Social Security Derrick Kellier said that in order to meet the April 11, 2015 deadline for the opening of the hotel, the Mexican investor, Operadora, had applied for 180 work permits for “specialists finishers”.

He said that currently 110 of these “specialist finishers” are already engaged on the project, and that approximately 150 work permits have already been granted with approximately 140 more on the table.

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