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Domestic workers in St. Kitts challenging their rights for free movement across Caribbean

The Caribbean Media Corporation, CMC, will this Sunday, (16th February), broadcast a live town hall meeting, beaming into thousands of regional households, on their international channel, Caribvision, which is available on local cable services in St. Kitts on channel 73.

Organizations 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 midterm summit in St Vincent.

The domestics and artisans from St. Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados are expected to participate in the discussion.

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 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.

Sunday’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.

In other parts of the world, such as the United States, domestic workers there too have been agitating for better working conditions, though they are not troubled by problems of free movement like their Caribbean counterparts.

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