By Derrick Scott
MICHIGAN, United States — Minister of Labour and Social Security, Shahine Robinson says there is a high demand for Jamaican workers in the hospitality industry in the state of Michigan, United States.
Robinson, who was touring Michigan establishments hosting Jamaican workers, said the demand was created by their exemplary work ethic.
Addressing more than 200 Jamaican workers at the Grand Traverse Hotel, in Traverse City, as part of her July 14-19 official visit – her first to Michigan as minister – Robinson explained that she was in the Great Lakes State on her annual visit to get a first-hand view of how the overseas work programme was working, and to reconnect with US legislators, employers, and Jamaican workers in an effort to grow the programme and expand the services.
The programme has been in operation for 76 years.
Robinson further explained that because hoteliers have been eagerly requesting more Jamaicans, her ministry was now in talks with the US authorities with a view to expanding the programme. She added that the more than 475 Jamaican workers accounted for at least 50 per cent of the hospitality labour force in Traverse City, Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island.
She further noted that the feedback received from the meetings with employers and workers regarding the success of the programme or areas requiring improvement are all valuable to the strategic growth plan.
“The Government of Jamaica views the programme as very vital,” she told the workers, reiterating how important the ministry’s overseas work programme was to Jamaica and the economy, as well as to the employees and the US employers. She urged the workers to keep the Jamaican flag flying high as ambassadors of their country.
A unique seasonal tourist resort destination, the State of Michigan utilises Jamaican workers from April to the first week in November each year. The last time a Jamaican ministerial delegation visited, it was led by former Prime Minister Portia Miller-Simpson, twenty years ago when she was the Minister of Labour.
On Monday, the minister visited and met with employees and employers of the Grand Traverse Hotel; then on Tuesday, visited Mackinac City and met with over 120 workers at the Best Western Dockside Hotel; and on Wednesday, she visited Mackinac Island and met with some 80 workers, and with management and senior staff.
On Thursday, Robinson is scheduled for a town hall meeting with Jamaican workers, and the Mackinac Mayor Margaret Dodd is expected to be in attendance as well. She is also to visit Mission Point Hotel and Bay View Hotel. Robinson and her delegation will leave Michigan on Friday.