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Domestics, artisans want to move freely

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Domestics, artisans want to move freely

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – Household domestics and artisans from five Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries will today engage in their latest efforts to get regional governments to honour their rights to freedom of movement, granted them more than five years ago.
The domestics and artisans from Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, St Kitts and Nevis and Barbados will participate 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 under the CARICOM Single Market (CSME), one week before CARICOM leaders meet for their mid-term summit in St Vincent.
The CPDC said it 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 region, 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.
Today’s town hall meeting, titled Making CSME Work for Artisans and Domestics,  is a part of a unique civil society project advocating for an end to delay in allowing actual free movement that has long been granted to artisans and domestics.
Munro-Knight said the project has noted 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. 
The five countries are considered the leading CARICOM member states in the free movement of people.