Civil engineer Carvel Stewart says local construction industry companies and workers offer better work than their locally employed counterparts in other countries.
In an interview with Loop News, Stewart said several entities have had to hire Jamaican companies and workers to fix the problems left behind by their foreign counterparts who were hired to construct buildings.
“There’s a big company that won’t say how much they had to spend hiring local companies to fix the problems left by a Chinese company they used to build a big building. There were all sorts of problems left after the job was done.
“It took major work to get the building ready in time as there were issues everywhere with poor quality finishes that needed fixing before the building was opened to the public. It was a nightmare but they will not complain publicly,” Stewart said.
He said the problem is quite widespread, with some companies losing money they thought they saved by hiring the Chinese companies with a lower bid to do the construction than what had been offered by local entities. Stewart said the companies were too embarrassed to speak out publicly on the issue.
File photo of a multi-storey construction project being carried out locally.
According to Stewart, the situation has been exacerbated by foreign companies underpaying agreed rates, as outlined by the Incorporated Masterbuilders’ Association of Jamaica (IMAJ) and unions in the Joint Industrial Labor Management Agreement. Council (JIC) of building and construction industry.
He said overseas employers are paying well below the stipulated $5,000 for tradespeople, and this is now reflected in local businesses, with many experienced industrial workers leaving their trades to work in other fields. , like becoming taxi drivers.
“When they pay a trader $2,000 a day, it can’t matter. It’s just for him to pay for his journey to and from work. He won’t even be able to pay for his lunch, let alone take care of his family. He feels better about the taxi job because it pays better,” Stewart said.
He said that according to information he has gleaned, Chinese workers doing similar jobs receive $10,000 a day in wages.
He said foreign contracting entities, mostly Chinese, argue that the local traders they employ are not part of the IMAJ. Stewart said that even if this is the case, the position of foreign contractors has a negative impact on the entire construction industry, as it devalues the work of craftsmen.
According to Stewart, IMAJ workers are unionized, with some receiving rates in excess of $5,000 a day, while also receiving vacation and sick leave as part of the agreement with the JIC. He said local workers are not allowed to receive these benefits from foreign companies.