Categorized | Editorials

Resolving the Labor Question

We need to have a census done to determine the extent to which Jamaicans and Haitians and other such undocumented migrants now run things at the street-corner level.

We also demand that these people should be made to pay their fair share of the taxes; anything less would be a travesty.

Indeed, this measure – if well executed – would go a long way to resolving this issue.

In addition, resolution of the matter at hand can and should begin with acceptance of certain facts among which would be certain conclusions: the vast majority of these people are here to stay. They should be counted and named. They should be taxed and they could and should be fast-tracked for some kind of status in the Bahamas.

And children born to them should be given citizenship as a birthright.

If we do less or if we ignore things outright, we court chaos.

In context, it is to be noted and accepted that Bahamians – especially those in the working classes – have been quite ambivalent about the presence of expatriates in this country; especially Haitians.

The same applies to Jamaicans and other West Indians.

Behind all of this is the fact that the foreign worker is sometimes prepared to put up with situations and circumstances because he feels that this is the price he must pay for his freedom.

In the meantime, his Bahamian counterpart nurses his grudges.

He sometimes sits there waiting and waiting for that government job that is his to be given him. This so that he can get a steady stipend, regardless of how little he must do as he holds it.

Successive regimes have managed [albeit by omission] failed to deal with one of the realities that come with being both urbanized and economically successful.

They have failed to put in place effective ways of coping with the reception of labour on the move. They have done nothing to help alleviate tension borne of culture conflict between these people and their Bahamian hosts.

In stark contrast, all regimes that have ever run things in the Bahamas have been exceptionally mindful to the needs of people who have money enough to wish to have it managed in these sublime isles of June.

While the country’s labour market is also attractive to a certain kind of worker, the same cannot be said of how they are received.

On occasion, they are met with hate and with derision.

But no matter, they seem to be here for the long haul. We underscore the obvious: – While Immigration might for whatever reason round up a few here and a few there, these people in their vast majority are here to stay.

We have heard it said over and over again, if you want reliable workers you must hire somebody who is foreign.

Contrariwise, reports continue come in from around the Bahamas to substantiate the claim which says Bahamian workers – especially Bahamian men – are quite unprepared to give employers a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.

Indeed, we routinely hear stories concerning the extent to which some Bahamian workers are down-right lousy; turning up to work sometimes drunk; sometimes besotted with weed or otherwise, ‘bust-right-up’.

Their female counterparts are wallowing in the same kind of despond: thus the state of their brood who are so very often unleashed in a however would do manner onto the nation’s streets.

It is out of this environment we get the crime rate we have. It is also from this environment we get some of that whiff of ethnic conflict that sometimes inflects and affects life at street-corner level especially here in New Providence.

Here we find any number of people who while sharing the same physical space quite often reside in worlds that are far apart.

This explains the situation of the upwardly mobile Haitian worker living in Bain-Town or Grant’s Town who attends Church, thanks God for being alive; strives to feed wife and children, who has a job, who works from sunrise to sun-down, is able to keep not only body and soul together, but also manages to send remittances to his extended family in Haiti.

In stark contrast, you have this man’s Bahamian counterpart who is downwardly mobile – either on his way to poverty, jail or bloody death. His children are scattered to the four winds; the women by whom he has generated these people are just like him; and sadly, they produce after their own kind; thus some of the totally ravaged brood they produce.

And the beat goes on.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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