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BITU concerned about 'precarious' contracts for hotel workers

Monday, March 18, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) has welcomed the announcement by Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett that a bill promulgating a pension scheme for workers in the tourism sector should be ready by April, but says it is concerned about short term contracts being offered to some hotel employees.

BITU President, Senator Kavan Gayle, in a statement today, said that with the growth within the industry, the fact that the hotels are no longer severely restricted to seasonal employment, has created the need for some urgency to be given to improving the conditions under which the workers are employed, especially those engaged in contractual employment.

“We are concerned about reports that we have been receiving about the nature of employment of workers in the tourism industry. We are receiving calls about the treatment of these workers by their employers and the lack of respect shown to them,” Gayle said.

He further highlighted “the precarious nature” of the contracts, some of which are being offered for periods as short as three months.

This, he said, not only denies the workers the opportunity for trade union representation, but also the chance to plan their future with the surety of continuous employment within confines of mutually beneficial industrial relations practices.

Gayle noted that some of these workers have complained about the lack of opportunity to operate in positions for which they have the required certification, but are being passed over for foreign nationals, as well as the level of compensation they received compared to what is paid to the foreign nationals.

He said that introducing the promised pension scheme for the hospitality workers, as well as affordable housing, are fundamental needs of these workers within the industry, given the fact that they need accommodation close to the hotels to which they are employed.

While BITU commended Bartlett's efforts to attract vast investment and stimulate growth, Gayle said the sovereignty of the country's labour standards must always preserved and protected.

He said that the Union has made numerous calls for the conditions of employment of these workers to be addressed, and is taking step to ensure that the industry does not continue to ignore their needs.

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