The general secretary of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), Toni Moore, says Barbadians should be given priority when jobs become available on the local labour market.
“And I say this very conscious that this can evolve into a debate on whether or not the statement is a xenophobic statement or not. And, without fear of that, because I recognise exactly where it is going if you have a community that just opens up its borders and allows people to be in and out without giving consideration to the realities that confront us, if we take Barbados today,” said Moore as she made her contribution in the Senate Friday to the Caribbean Community (Movement of Skilled Nationals) (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
“Barbados today is one in which the economy is challenged.”— Moore
She told legislators that it was significant that the labour market established standards that would allow Barbadians the right of first refusal when employment opportunities arise.
“Barbados today is one in which the economy is challenged, in which there is a higher rate of unemployment that shouldn’t make any of us comfortable.
“If we don’t understand that we must create an environment that provides for our citizens, the average man and woman in the street, an opportunity to know that where opportunities present themselves, they have a right to first refusal, we may find that all of the debates we have heard earlier about being xenophobic and so on may become more apparent than they should be,” Moore said.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Mia Mottley warned Barbadians that they cannot survive in isolation as she piloted the legislation in keeping with the freedom of movement of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nationals.
Mottley, who is also chairman of the 15-member regional integration grouping, told legislators that Barbados, with a population of 280,000, cannot survive on its own “because we do not have enough economic activity on our own”.
She said that as a result, Bridgetown should be more welcoming of its regional neighbours under the terms of the CSME that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services.