Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ain't globalisation grand

Chinese construction workers on the site of Grenada's National Stadium

It seems that you can't open a paper or turn on the news without some individual or agency complaining about unfair competition, level playing fields or globalisation. It's an unfortunate reality that a lot of companies in the region are only now waking up to.

Take the situation with Chinese labour. You would swear that Chinese labourers have turned up in Barbados overnight by the amount of complaints from local contractors and labourers. Our Asian brothers have been working here for probably over 10 years. They worked on the Wildey Gymnasium, the Ministry of Education, the London Bourne Towers, the Cheapside Market, I believe the Old Town Hall...the list goes on.

I may be wrong, but I think the reason for all the complaints these days is the fact that the Chinese are now moving into private enterprise, and the local big guns in construction aren't too happy about it. The Chinese are working on the Four Seasons Hotel, they built British American Insurance on Coleridge Street and I know they're working on a few private residences.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not in favour of any unfair practices that will place local or regional labourers at a disadvantage. I'm just saying that our guys need to check themselves and find out how they can turn this tide back in their favour.

Then there's the BS&T saga, the LIAT/Caribbean Star merger and now the local Egg and Poultry Producers vs. the producers of processed (powdered) eggs. These examples all have one theme: competition. In some cases, consumers will benefit, in others, not so much. Although I'm sure locals will love to remain loyal to the local merchants, contractors etc., at the end of the day their loyalty will fall to the person/company that leaves the smallest dent in their pockets. Can you blame them?

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