Saturday, March 2, 2024

THE LOWDOWN: Les unemployables


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If you call Brass Tacks moderator David Ellis to talk about how hard it is being unemployed, how hard to make ends meet, pay bills, put food on the table for your many children, he is all ears.

In soothing tones he will milk the story for all it’s worth until we the listeners feel guilty about switching to the nearby BBC to hear how ISIS has overrun yet another town and 180 000 are fleeing, many without their heads.

But if, God forbid, you should call to mention how those Jamaican foreigners living here scam our government out of much-needed revenue by getting tourists to buy them items duty-free, a remarkable transformation occurs.

His voice jumps three octaves into the mezzo-soprano range, he isn’t going to sit here and let you get away with that as if Bajans don’t do it too, he pretty much cuts you to ribbons like an ISIS with an AK47 so we listeners don’t even have to shift to BBC to experience some first-hand bloodletting.

David apparently doesn’t see any difference between a Bajan scamming a Bajan government, an in-house affair like if your wife splurged the money you gave her to buy pig snouts on Victoria Secret seamless Cheekini panties, compared with a Jamaican who might send our money home to help Shanique landscape her new Bajan-bought mansion. To each his own.

By the way, the deportation of 13 Jamaicans from T&T has brought forth some interesting viewpoints. The Trini minister of national security says immigration officers can’t simply “rubber stamp” CARICOM nationals coming there (contrary to what the CCJ has ruled) when over 19 000 Jamaicans have remained there illegally, draining state resources while paying no taxes, with a consequent “loss of revenue of over TT$1 billion per annum”.

In contrast, a Jamaican politician, instead of berating his people for smuggling drugs in their personal orifices, illegally overstaying their time or working as prostitutes, comes over all high and mighty. He denounces an “increasing incidence of harassment and demeaning treatment of Jamaicans attempting to visit CARICOM member states”, which could lead to renewed calls for Jamaica to leave the grouping. Talk about boldface!

Anyhow, let’s get back to employment. And here we find a strange paradox. There are, we are told, lots of people out of work and having a rough time. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who have jobs that need doing and would be only too glad to find workers. So why doesn’t the situation resolve itself?

Maybe, because they are many, like myself, who don’t feel employing people in Barbados is worth the hassle. Even though this means your business is curtailed to the size you and your immediate family can handle, and not even efficiently. You may give someone a day’s work here and there but that’s all.

What’s wrong? A lot. But first let me acknowledge there are wicked, unscrupulous employers out there making life a misery for their workers. And there are honest, hard-working Bajans many of whom are so much in demand they can never keep up.

So what qualities are employers looking for and not finding? Attitude, for one. Over the past few weeks I’ve had wonderful experiences. Ryan at On Line dropped a mountain of work to sort out my computer; Carlon Worrell at the Environmental Protection Department got plastic bags of beach garbage removed from next to my property same day; a more than helpful lady at the Timberland store; a security guard at Carter’s who said “Wunna have a nice day” with such genuine feeling I wanted to hug, or at least, marry her . . .  .

And then the other side: “My God”, remarked my daughter, “that cashier sour!”

Loyalty and no t’iefing. When maids reportedly told the Animal Control people they saw hair and blood on sheets (interpreted to signify their mistress was cohabiting with the dog), maybe 10 000 couples resolved to do without a maid. When a wayward youngster given a job by a caring businessman brought two friends to rob his employer at gunpoint, add 30 000 wayward youngsters who won’t get a pick.

And so on. Basically employers want staff they can trust, who will pull out all the stops to make the business succeed.

The difficulty comes in knowing who is who.

Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.


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