HC Deb 28 July 1943 vol 391 cc1594-5W
Mr. Riley

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the recruitment of workers in Jamaica for labour in the United States of America has now been completed; the total number of Jamaican workers so recruited; whether they have all now arrived in the United States of America; and the period for which they have been recruited and the general con- ditions as to wages, hours of work and amenities which have been provided for?

Colonel Stanley

The total number of Jamaican workers recruited for agricultural employment in the United States of America is 9,435, of whom 8,826 have arrived in the United States. Further recruitment is suspended for the time being. I have not yet received from the Governor the text of the agreement concluded between the Governments of the United States and Jamaica, and of the contract made between the United States Government and the individual workers, but I am informed by the Governor that the following are the main provisions of the former.

The workers are to be employed under a contract in a form approved by the Jamaica Government, and shall not be engaged in or subject to military service by or for the United States Government. They shall not be discriminated against or paid less than similar workers in the United States. They are to be transported and repatriated upon the expiration of the contract at the expense of the United States Government. They are to be given work for not less than 75 per cent. of their contract period or compensation in lieu at the minimum rate of three dollars a day, or one dollar sixty cents a day if food is provided. The workers are to be medically examined before recruitment, and no person under 18 years of age is to be employed. The living conditions and sanitary and medical services provided are not to be inferior to those provided for similar employees in the United States, and the workers are to have the legal protection afforded to other agricultural workers in the particular areas in which they are employed.

The agreement also provides for a compulsory deduction of one dollar per day from wages to be transmitted by the United States Government to the Government of Jamaica, which will place these sums to the credit of the individual workers in an account opened at the Government Savings Bank, Jamaica, to be held as savings or paid to the worker's dependants as the worker may direct. With regard to the individual agreements concluded with the workers, I am informed that they provide in each case that the contract shall terminate on the 30th September, 1943, unless renewed.