Joseph Remy, president of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (Fitun), is criticising business owners and the employer class for what he sees as the exploitation of Venezuelan migrant workers.
“We are concerned and we are alarmed at what is happening. The private sector is taking advantage of those workers. These people have been exploited because they are disadvantaged and because they are considered to be alien to this labour market they are being used by the business class. We condemn that. While they are not T&T nationals, they are workers,” he told Guardian Media by phone yesterday.
According to a Guardian Report on Sunday, one month after the registration process for Venezuelans was completed, there have been complaints from migrants about job scams, sexual advances on job interviews and other issues.
Members of several Venezuelan groups related experiences to the Sunday Guardian as Venezuelans continue settling in and awaiting their registration cards.
Last Thursday, National Security Minister Stuart Young said cards being printed should be distributed in a few weeks. He said registration forms had provided information and authorities were now tracking problems, including trafficking.
Remy called on the authorities to “take action” against employers found exploiting migrant workers.
“The Government should intervene and do something about that. Put all those individuals that are found guilty, throw them over the coals and take action against them.”
At the policy level, he said that the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) had called for a document on migrant workers.
“JTUM made a statement on migrant labour. When we did the workers’ agenda, one of the things we clamoured for and still want is a migrant labour policy.
“In the absence of that, what has happened now with the Venezuelans demonstrates that the policy would have been absolutely necessary. There would have been some control for the abuse we see now. Up to now, we have not had that.”
Rajiv Diptee, president of the Supermarket’s Association, told Guardian Media last Friday that employers in that industry will be paying migrants minimum wages and even higher based on the laws of the country.