National Assembly Question Time-Construction and tourism largest employers of foreign workers


18-October-2012

The Minister for Labour and Human Resource Development Idith Alexander said this in the National Assembly this week in answer to a question from elected member for Anse Etoile Melval Dugasse.

Mr Dugasse wanted to know how many foreign workers are working in Seychelles and how much they are costing the country.

Minister Alexander said statistics from the immigration division show that by the end of September this year there was a total of 12,378 foreign workers in formal employment in the country. She noted that the figures represent an increase of around 1,500 foreign workers compared to the same period last year.

She added that by the end of last month there was a total of 6,373 foreign workers in the construction industry with the tourism sector close behind with 3,489.

Minister Alexander pointed out that as a result of an increase in investment and development, coupled with the small population, the country has not been able to meet the local demand for human resource and this has resulted in the recruitment of foreign labour.

But Minister Alexander stressed that foreign workers should only be recruited to fill in positions where there are no qualified Seychellois.

“It remains the government’s priority to ensure that all Seychellois who want to work and have the necessary qualifications get a job,” added the minister.

She said her ministry is working closely with other agencies like the immigration division to ensure this position is maintained.

Minister Alexander also informed the Assembly that her ministry is carrying out an exercise to review the national employment policy and other mechanisms in place to ensure that qualified Seychellois can take up key posts being occupied by foreign workers.

With regard to the amount of money the country is spending on foreign workers, Minister Alexander noted that an in-depth study needs to be carried out so as to compare the expenses with the benefits they bring to the country.

In a supplementary question, Mr Dugasse wanted to know if the employment department plans to review the localisation policy to identify areas where foreign workers are required and if the understudy programme is really effective.

Minister Alexander explained that the recruitment of foreign workers is the main activity her ministry is working on. She also informed the Assembly that the localisation plan is not so effective and it needs to be reviewed.

“The employment department is undergoing an internal re-organisation process which will include setting up a unit with competent officers who would specifically handle the issue of recruitment of foreign workers,’’ Minister Alexander noted.

She added that not only the localisation plan but also a succession plan and training plan with a monitoring process also feature among her ministry’s priorities.

In reply to a relative question by elected member for Les Mamelles Emmanuel Fideria -- who wanted to know if there were any foreign workers working illegally in the country and if yes what the ministry is doing to address the situation -- Minister Alexander pointed out that there are procedures in place to recruit foreign workers and they need to have a work permit and their GOP paid.

She stressed that these are approved by the Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Development which has a unit that carries out monitoring of the process and inspects work places for any breach of procedures. She noted that there has been no report of any such cases so far.
Minister Alexander also answered a question asked by elected member for Beau Vallon Mirena Souris relating to the welfare of foreign workers. Ms Souris wanted to know the ministry’s position in relation to this issue.

Minister Alexander noted that the Employment Act and the laws covering health and security of workers provide for all workers in Seychelles, foreign workers included, to be protected. They provide for foreign workers to benefit from the national minimum wage, annual leave, sick leave and protective gear where necessary.

Minister Alexander described as regrettable, in spite of the law in place, the fact that there are cases where employers are not giving the workers their dues as the law states.

She noted that her ministry in collaboration with other ministries and agencies are intensifying site inspection visits to ensure that the rights of these workers are respected as per the law. 

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