Paulwell: Chinese doing manual work on Palisadoes project

Paulwell: Chinese doing manual work on Palisadoes project

Thursday, November 24, 2011

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OPPOSITION People's National Party Member of Parliament for East Kingston and Port Royal Phillip Paulwell has warned that trouble is afoot over the imbalance in the number of Chinese workers compared to Jamaicans on the Palisadoes Shoreline and Rehabilitation project.

"There is a serious problem that is about to explode on the Palisadoes road, and when I say explode, I mean an explosion of no mean order. As member of parliament I have had to contain it but it is not going to be contained much longer," Paulwell told a meeting of the Public Administrations and Appropriations Committee of Parliament yesterday.

The East Kingston and Port Royal MP said that he had photographs in his possession showing Chinese persons carrying out manual labour on the Palisadoes project.

"We wish them well and we love the Chinese but when they come in the wake of a minister's pledge to the people that this work is going to create hundreds of jobs and for the Chinese to come to be doing manual labour it is going to create problems in this country, and I am warning," he told the committee.

"I need to know because when I met with them they said to me that it is in their contract they are able to bring over a thousand persons to work on this project, where is it in the contract, is the Ministry of Labour aware and are the people aware that this is creating serious unrest in an environment where unemployment is so severe. We are going to have a massive explosion," Paulwell warned yesterday.

The MP had been questioning officials about their observations on the work sites related to the US$400-million Jamaica Development Infrastructural Programme (JDIP) of which the Palisadoes project is a part.

"In relation to the work done on the site, was there any observation of actual work being done and what could possibly be breaches of our labour laws in Jamaica? Did you observe Chinese persons working on the site? I have been told that in their contract there are provisions for them to use their workers to do ordinary manual labour," Paulwell said.

"Our labour laws are quite straightforward, the Ministry of Labour is allowed to grant work permits for employment of foreigners in Jamaica, based on certain clearly defined conditions and I think we run very serious risks with our foreign partners when we do not make things clear to them," he added.

Yesterday, officials of the Public Accountability Inspectorate who had appeared before the committee to present their findings on their due diligence on the Rio Grande Bridge project, also a part of the JDIP, said they were not aware of this but said it was possible that both Chinese and Jamaican workers would have been on the site.

Under the project, the intention is to raise the road — which is the only point of access to the Norman Manley International Airport — and erect a seawall. The Palisadoes project, estimated at US$65.5 million, is being carried out by the China Harbour Engineering Company, the company assigned as general contractor. China Harbour has subcontracted Jamaican A-1 construction company, YP Seaton and Associates.

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