Vulnerable workers increase slightly year-on-year

Vulnerable workers increase slightly year-on-year
(Courtesy of HuffPost)

DPM: Govt. focused on increasing permanent jobs

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The rate of vulnerable workers in The Bahamas has declined in the last months, according to Department of Statistics Senior Statistician Cypreanna Winters.

The department released the latest Labour Force Survey last Friday.

According to the latest survey, there were 14,745 vulnerable workers, compared to 14,740 vulnerable workers at the time of the May 2018 survey.

Men comprised the majority of vulnerable workers, more than tripling the number of women in this category.

Of the 14,745 vulnerable workers, 3,390 were women and 11,355 were men.

Of the 14,740 vulnerable workers in May 2018, 6,475 were women and 8,265 were men.

The department said the vulnerable workers represented 6.9 percent of total employment, and remained “basically unchanged” since May 2018 as a percentage of the employed.

According to the department, vulnerable worker status applies to anyone who is not permanently employed.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) defined these workers as less likely to have formal work arrangements, and more likely to lack “decent working conditions, and are often characterized by inadequate earnings and benefits”.

Speaking to Eyewitness News Online, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said, “That is the kind of statistics that I have asked the department of statistics to provide for us so we can track what’s real and sustainable versus temporary blips up and down because obviously the more permanent jobs [is what we are aiming for].”

According to the survey, there were 214,890 workers in the labour force.

Of that figure, 200,145 were permanent workers — 139,275 in New Providence and 27,735 in Grand Bahama.

According to the ILO, homeworkers, the majority of whom have been found to be women, constitute a particularly vulnerable category of workers.

The ILO attributed this to their often “informal status and lack of legal protection, their isolation and weak bargaining position”.

Statisticians have long acknowledged that contract workers and temporary workers for events, including Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival impacted unemployment trends in previous surveys.

Carnival held in May between 2015 and 2017 created direct and indirect jobs in the weeks prior, with those workers, as well as contract workers, being considered a part of that vulnerable group.

While the event has been put on solely by the private sector, it remains unclear how many workers employed in the lead up to May event are considered vulnerable.

At the time of the May 2018 survey, statisticians noted that they were trying to perform expanded coding to determine the extent of vulnerable workers for events such as Carnival and were asking questions along those lines, but had not yet analyzed the data to a point where it could be presented.

Last month, millions of low-paid, vulnerable workers in the United Kingdom were given increased workplace protections as the government announced its latest measure to advance the “Good work plan” initiative.

The upgrade to workers’ rights included proposals to create a single labour market enforcement body, which will have the powers to enforce minimum wage and holiday payment; ensure agency workers are not underpaid and protecting vulnerable workers.