ECA wants labour policy for migrants

The um­brel­la body for em­ploy­ers in T&T is call­ing for a spe­cial pol­i­cy to al­low for the prop­er in­te­gra­tion of Venezue­lan mi­grants in­to the lo­cal labour force.

Over 16,000 Venezue­lan mi­grants reg­is­tered with Im­mi­gra­tion Di­vi­sion be­tween May 31 and June 14, dur­ing an amnesty which al­lows them to work in this coun­try for up to a year. Al­ready sev­er­al com­pa­nies have of­fered reg­is­tered Venezue­lans em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.


Speak­ing with Guardian Me­dia on Thurs­day of­fi­cials of the Em­ploy­ers’ Con­sul­ta­tive As­so­ci­a­tion said there were sev­er­al grey ar­eas for em­ploy­ers who are hir­ing these mi­grants.

Ac­cord­ing to the as­so­ci­a­tion’s in­ter­im Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Stephanie Fin­gal, the coun­try has on­ly heard that mi­grants do not have to pay na­tion­al in­sur­ance. But she ques­tioned whether em­ploy­ers will be ex­pect­ed to up­hold oth­er le­gal ben­e­fits as stat­ed un­der the Ma­ter­ni­ty Pro­tec­tion, In­dus­tri­al Re­la­tions and the Work­men Com­pen­sa­tion Acts.

Fin­gal said un­der those pieces of leg­is­la­tion there was noth­ing which states a mi­grant work­er was not el­i­gi­ble. In fact, she stat­ed the leg­is­la­tion on­ly made ref­er­ence to a “work­er.”

Vice-Chair­man of the as­so­ci­a­tion, Farzan Ali, said the Gov­ern­ment may have jumped the gun in al­low­ing Venezue­lans to reg­is­ter be­fore putting to­geth­er a na­tion­al labour pol­i­cy for mi­grants.

How­ev­er, he in­sist­ed it was not too late to cater for mi­grant work­ers and ex­pressed hope that the ECA will be called to the ta­ble by the Gov­ern­ment to have such a pol­i­cy put to­geth­er.

Ali said he was re­cent­ly part of a dis­cus­sion host­ed by the ECA’s par­ent body, the In­ter­na­tion­al Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Em­ploy­ers (IOE), in Gene­va where pre­sen­ta­tions were made by a num­ber of coun­tries who are grap­pling with mass mi­gra­tion.

Go­ing for­ward, he said, the IOE was for­mu­lat­ing a frame­work for man­ag­ing the mi­grant labour process and he hopes to share this in­for­ma­tion with the gov­ern­ment.

Even though the Venezue­lan mi­grant reg­is­tra­tion pol­i­cy has end­ed and many are al­ready work­ing, Ali said the Gov­ern­ment still had time to for­mu­late a pol­i­cy that will ben­e­fit both em­ploy­ees and em­ploy­ers.

Fin­gal sug­gest­ed that the Ac­cred­i­ta­tion Coun­cil be con­sult­ed dur­ing this process.

“How do we val­i­date the aca­d­e­mics the per­son will bring for­ward and equate them with the lev­el of what we have in Trinidad? When we say we need five O’ lev­els, what does that mean for five sub­jects from Venezuela?” she asked.

Both Fin­gal and Ali said they be­lieve an ex­pan­sion of the labour force will au­gur well for this coun­try’s com­pet­i­tive­ness com­pe­tence.

As such, Ali en­cour­aged com­pa­nies to fill le­git­i­mate va­can­cies.

Fur­ther, they sug­gest­ed com­pa­nies en­gage with the re­spec­tive unions to draft a ten­ta­tive hir­ing plan to al­low for the in­clu­sion of mi­grants in the work­force. In ad­di­tion, they are call­ing for more re­sources to be pumped in­to the Labour In­spec­torate Unit of the Min­istry of Labour to en­sure com­pa­nies do not take ad­van­tage of not on­ly mi­grants but lo­cals as well.

The ECA cur­rent­ly has about 600 ac­tive mem­bers. Mem­bers are meet­ing to­day to for­mu­late a guid­ance pol­i­cy for hir­ing mi­grants.

Reporter: Bavita Gopaulchan

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