Although local businesses are not obligated to hire non-nationals who fled their countries following Hurricane Irma and Maria, the Labour Minister Steadroy Cutie Benjamin wants them to consider the option.
Benjamin, in an interview with OBSERVER media, said once there are vacancies existing and persons from the OECS apply for the job, “then the employer is under obligation to select who is best for the position.”
Under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, OECS nationals are allowed to move freely within member states.
Basically, free movement of skills entails the right to seek employment in any member state and the elimination of the need for work permits and permits of stay.
Benjamin said Antigua and Barbuda signed unto the treaty making it obligated to provide stay, employment and protection of laws for all OECS nationals.
He said there have been negative remarks that non-nationals are attempting to take up the jobs of locals.
“But there are Antiguans who travel to other neighbouring countries like Dominica, St Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines and they won’t like to be treated that way. They shouldn’t be,” he said.
Benjamin said he is also aware that there have been cases of discrimination among the non-nationals.
“There should not be any discrimination. We have one Eastern Caribbean community, one EC currency and we ought not to discriminate against anyone who wants to seek a better life for their families,” Benjamin added.
Following Hurricane Maria, a group was directed to present a fixed set of policies that would apply to all those who are leaving Dominica for Antigua, and to plan the reception of those OECS/Dominican citizens who may choose Antigua.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)