Artisans & domestics to take to airwaves to press Caribbean governments to keep CARICOM free movement promise

Household domestics and artisans from five CARICOM nations – Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, St Kitts & Nevis and Barbados – are take to regional airwaves on Sunday in their latest bid to urge the region’s governments to honour their rights to freedom of movement, granted them more than five years ago.

In a region-wide town hall meeting, to be broadcast on the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) international channel, Caribvision, organisations representing these workers will join with the regional civil society umbrella, the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC), in telling of their struggle to move freely and legally in the CARICOM Single Market (CSME), one week before CARICOM leaders meet for their mid-term summit in St Vincent.

The CPDC is concerned that since the respective decisions of CARICOM leaders in 2007 and 2009 to allow for the free movement of artisans and household domestics within the CSME as recognised CARICOM skilled nationals, member states have not succeeded in implementing the necessary procedures to give effect to their rights

CPDC Executive Coordinator Shantal Munro-Knight said the town hall meeting is expected to capture the growing frustration of many artisans and domestics that no one can say for certain when the necessary processes will be in place to give effect to their rights.

"It's time CARICOM governments act now with concrete steps towards fulfilling the a five-year-old commitment to allow artisans and domestic workers to join artistes, graduates, intellectuals, media workers, musicians, sportspersons, holders of associate degrees, teachers and nurses in moving for employment purposes without the need to obtain a work permits in under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME)," she said.

It’s time CARICOM governments act now with concrete steps towards fulfilling the a five-year-old commitment to allow artisans and domestic workers to join artistes, graduates, intellectuals, media workers, musicians, sportspersons, holders of associate degrees, teachers and nurses in moving for employment purposes without the need to obtain a work permits in under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME),” she said.

Sunday’s town hall meeting - Making CSME Work for Artisans and Domestics – is a part of a unique civil society project that is advocating for an end to delay in allowing actual free movement that has long been granted to artisans and domestics. The project, she said, has discovered that the delay has significantly hampered artisans and domestics in the exercise of their rights – leaving them open to exploitation by unscrupulous hosts.

Among those scheduled to appear on the programme are president of Trinidad and Tobago’s National Union of Domestic Employees (NUDE) Ida Le Blanc and Shirley Pryce, the head of Jamaica Household Workers Union.

Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago have been the five CARICOM nations in the project where educational workshops were staged by the CPDC to educate artisans and domestics on their rights and responsibilities to free movement throughout the CSME.

These are the five leading CARICOM member nations in the free movement of people.

The CPDC has also been cooperating with CSME member nations and the CARICOM Secretariat to achieve “tangible, meaningful progress” on to the free movement of artisans and domestic workers, Munro-Knight said.

The project has been highlighting the need for domestics and artisans to utilise the rights, which they have been granted in the CSME to move legally in order to avoid , and the consequences of illegal migration movement.

“With this education campaign, we hope to help protect workers from unscrupulous agents who may seek to exploit them when they move illegally for work. The best way to fight this is by helping workers to use the free movement regime properly,” said Munro-Knight.

Interest groups in the five participating countries will be kept informed of the actual rate of implementation of the Free Movement of Skilled Workers Regime. They will also have the opportunity to share the experiences and lessons learnt under the project with all the remaining CSME member countries.

Making CSME Work for Artisans and Domestics: A Caribbean Town Hall Meeting airs Sunday, February 16 at 8pm ECT (7pm Jamaica) on CMC’s Caribvision channel.

The project is funded by the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund (CARTFund) and financed by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID).

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