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Tuesday 10 December 2019
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South bars get boost with migrant women

Venezuelan migrants wait to register at Acheivors Banquet Hall, Duncan Village, San Fernando on June 16. PHOTO BY VASHTI SINGH
Venezuelan migrants wait to register at Acheivors Banquet Hall, Duncan Village, San Fernando on June 16. PHOTO BY VASHTI SINGH

Venezuelan women in south Trinidad are mostly finding employment in bars and pubs, president of the Penal/Debe Chamber of Commerce (PDCC) Rampersad Sieuraj said yesterday.

“Many of the Venezuelans women have gravitated to the bars and pubs looking for employment and there is an increase in this sort of business in the Penal/Debe areas,” he told Sunday Newsday. The women are seen working behind the counter, but many are also "entertaining customers", he said according to reports he has received. He did not elaborate.

While there have been no reports of criminal activates, Sieuraj said businesses are mindful that with the good comes the bad and chamber members are vigilant when it comes to security.

South Trinidad has experienced a tremendous influx of Venezuelans who came through the south west peninsula. The migrants who came to TT by boats landed at Icacos, Los Eros, Point Fortin, Cedros, Erin, and Quinam. In an effort to manage the inflow, Government continued a two-week registration exercise for the migrants from May 31-June 14 which allows them to work in TT for one year.

Government should adopt additional measures to ensure that the numbers of Venezuelans arriving is controlled, Sieuraj said, adding the chamber believed there should be no further entry to migrants seeking shelter here. Government last week implemented a visa policy for Venezuelans.

In terms of the types of jobs, Venezuelans can do, Sieuraj said there should be a database of their skills and felt this was a shortcoming of the registration exercise.

“There wasn’t a proper plan in place. The Government should have implemented proper screening so that business community would have been able to select those who may have skills.”

He did note that many of the migrants have found work in the agricultural sector filling a void in labour in the area. “Now that the rainy season has started, farmers went looking for the Venezuelans whom they can hire.”

Even so, businessmen have complained the language posed a problem, Sieuraj said, forcing many Venezuelans to be hired for unskilled jobs including construction companies and supermarket.

“A tremendous benefit has been the work ethic in the sense that the workers are doing the full eight-hour day work for half the pay that the Trinidadians are demanding," he said.

Greater San Fernando Chamber of Commerce president Kiran Singh yesterday said members have expressed some interest in employing Venezuelans but not in significant numbers. “Businesses in the bar, restaurant and construction sectors have begun to employ them. However, outside of these sectors, no significant figures have been forthcoming. Venezuelans seeking employment claim to be professionals but that is difficult to prove because of the language barrier and the potential of counterfeit documents,” Singh said.

Pharmacists in San Fernando, he said, are not prepared to employ the Venezuelans because of the language barrier.

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