Some work permit holders from Africa feel "afraid" to seek help or share grievances with their employers over concerns they might lose their job, which is often tied to accommodation, a Scrutiny panel has heard.
Friends of Africa CI told the Work Permit Holder Welfare Review panel – a group of politicians who are currently scrutinising the effectiveness of the island's work permit policy – that workers often refrain from speaking out on workplace concerns.
Chair of the panel Deputy Beatriz Porée described the feedback as "sobering information", but added that it was "important" for the review of work permit holders' welfare.
Pictured: Panel chair Beatriz Porée described the feedback as "sobering information".
Washington Gwatidzo, Chair of Friends of Africa CI, said that the charity was set up to "champion diversity and inclusion" in Jersey and to celebrate different cultures in the island.
Mr Gwatidzo said: "Putting your head above the parapet and reporting your employer is a scary thing to do."
Another member of Friends of Africa CI, Lesley Katsande, said that there was a feeling among African workers that challenging an employer and "put[ting] their head above the parapet" may impact their ability to return to the island.
"Migrant workers are not empowered to stand up for themselves," Ms Katsande added. "Employers are not answerable to anyone, unless it's the Tax Department or Social Security.
"But regardless of where you are from, discrimination is difficult to tackle."
Arthur Kembo, who previously worked as a work permit holder in Jersey, also shared concerns with the panel.
Pictured: The Friends of Africa CI charity promotes, shares, celebrates and enhances the profile of African culture and Africa in Jersey.
"Work permit holders are tied to their employer for one year – they can't leave their employment. If they do leave their employer, then they have to leave the island – as an employee, you have no rights," he said.
In a separate hearing, the Kenyan Jersey Committee shared also shared their views. The panel heard that there are approximately 1,000 Kenyans living in Jersey.
Committee Secretary Joshua Mushuri said that the biggest grievance for Kenyan work permit holders is that they can only work for one employer.
"The work permit holders come here to make income – in their free time, they are not allowed to make more of an income," he said.
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