KINGSTON, Jamaica--Jamaican authorities are worried about the treatment of their nationals seeking to live and work in sister Caribbean Community Caricom member states, so much so that one Member of Parliament (MP) has urged the Andrew Holness Government to reciprocate.

At a meeting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of Parliament Wednesday, an official from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security revealed that Jamaicans were being turned away by some member states that have failed to make necessary legislative changes under the free movement clause of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Under the CSME, Caricom nationals who have a university degree or are media practitioners, artists, musicians and sportspersons are allowed to move freely.

In addition, provisions have also been made for the movement of qualified teachers, nurses, artisans, domestic workers and holders of Associate’s degrees and comparable qualifications.

However, Director of Work Permits at the Ministry, Lisa-Ann Grant said some member states have not approved the new categories in law and this creates a challenge for Jamaicans with Caricom skills certificates who are seeking employment in those countries.

“If they have moved, for example, with a skills certificate as a domestic worker into a state such as Trinidad or even Barbados, because they have not amended their legislation to recognise that category, unfortunately our nationals are challenged. They have to get an extension of stay – the skills certificate doesn’t undergo that process of verification [with subsequent – Ed.] unconditional landing …,” Grant outlined.

MP for Manchester North Western Mikael Phillips took a strong stance as he charged that some countries were not willing to change their laws and resorted to encouraging Jamaicans to take up low-paying jobs.

“If they have the certificate they will have to pay them a higher wage, but yet they encourage them to come down there; if they make it through Immigration it’s fine and good, but once they get caught there is no repercussion for that employer,” he said.

“As a country we have to protect our own nationals in applying pressure to these member states to either adjust or we also [will – Ed.] have a stringent entrance application.” ~ Caribbean360 ~

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