Western News

Workers wanted

MARK CUMMINGS, Observer West Senior reporter

Thursday, November 27, 2008    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James -

Several businesses in the second city are hiring extra workers in anticipation of a bumper Christmas season despite the global economic crisis and its likely negative impact on the island's economy.

The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Megamart Wholesale Club and MBJ Airports Ltd, operators of the Sangster International Airport and Jamaica Dispatch Services are among those who have already begun and could be hiring additional workers.

"We took on about 35 persons in October to work in the areas of customer service and ramp because we expect the usual increase in business during the winter season," said Donna Wagstaffe, the operations manager at the Sangster international Airport branch of Jamaica Dispatch Services Ltd in Montego Bay.

Jamaica Dispatch currently employs about 150 persons at the island's two international airports to provide ground support mainly for chartered flights, as well as a few scheduled carriers.

Regional head of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) Milverton Munroe, told the Observer West that the agency, which is working assiduously to carry out its mandate, employed 180 persons from across St James to 'spruce up' sections of the city two weeks ago.

"We are aware of the global economic crunch, but we have put that on the back-burner and we are doing what we are mandated to do in carrying out our mission statement, which is to have an efficient collection, management and disposal of solid waste," he said.

At present work is concentrated in the vicinity of the Sangster Airport; the Queen Drive to Rose Hall mainroad as well as the Alice Eldermire Drive.

But Munroe said on Tuesday that the programme which he described as "ongoing" could be expanded to include other areas by year end, resulting in the hiring of more persons by the agency.

Funding for that programme which is expected to cost in excess of $236 million over the next 12 months is being provided mainly by the Ministry of Tourism through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).

The Megamart Wholesale Club, which has 230 permanent employees at its Montego Bay location, has over the past two weeks employed an additional 12 workers.

But the company could further increase its work force over the next few weeks, according to Megamart's Human Resource Manager, Judith Alexander.

"I will be meeting with the various departments this week to see what their needs are but I believe that we will employ a few more," she said.

MBJ Airports Ltd operators of the Sangster International Airport will also be employing a few more persons in the customer service department for the winter season, according to Elizabeth Scotton, the chief commercial officer at the company.

"We expect the number of arrivals to be consistent with what has happened over the past holidays so we will be taking on about four to five persons," said Scotton.

Chairman of the St James Parish Council, Charles Sinclair said the local authority would be finding additional resources to "spruce up" the area.

He warned however, that the resources would be spent efficiently.

More jobs could also become available in the construction sector, as despite the financial meltdown developers are still pushing ahead with several projects.

The two multi -million dollar hotels being built at the Montego Freeport, for example, is still on track for completion by the end of December next year.

"All the capital is in place and we are pressing forward with the construction. We have to be bold, we just can't sit and wait until the recovery happens so we are pressing ahead with the project," Michael Mc Morris, the managing director for Seawind Key Investments- the developers of the facility- said on Tuesday.

At present roughly 500 labourers are employed on the project-a more than 80 per cent increase over the number that was employed at the facility just over three weeks ago.

Another 100 persons, Mc Morris, said are expected to be employed at the site during the first quarter of next year.

Meanwhile persons are also expected to gain employment on a number of road infrastructure programmes being undertaken by the Ministry of Transport

and Works.

This includes the dualisation of the roadway between Reading and Fairview and other improvement works under segment 1a of the Northcoast Improvement Project estimated to cost of $1.4 billion and a major road patching programme to start next week in St James. A three-day effort by the Observer West to obtain details on the recruitment process proved futile as calls to Surrey Paving and Aggregate Limited the company which signed the multi-million contract to effect the project were met with the explanation that no one in authority was available to answer queries.

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